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Duterte: Fate of e-sabong could be decided on Monday

President Rodrigo Duterte over the weekend said he could decide on the fate of e-sabong or online cockfighting operations on Monday, May 2, following a review of the study conducted by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Duterte said he tasked DILG Secretary Eduardo Año to conduct a survey on the industry, given its network within the local units, and gather feedback in both cities and provinces regarding its operations.

“The recommendation is on my table now, so ‘pag dating doon, basahin ko and maybe by Monday, malaman natin kung ituloy natin o hindi,” he said during the inspection of the OFW Hospital in Pampanga.

“‘Pag-aralan ko ‘yan ngayong gabi. I will read it all over again, and I would like to see the dimension,” he continued.

[The recommendation is on my table now, so when I arrive there, I will read it and maybe by Monday, we will know whether to continue with it or not… I will study it tonight. I will read it all over again, and I would like to see the dimension.]

Duterte in the same event said e-sabong operations should continue to fall under the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) for one agency to have centralized data on gaming operations.

“Sabi ko sa kanila it must be under PAGCOR. Lahat ng sugal dito sa Pilipinas PAGCOR kasi may control ako. Isang opisina lang tawagan ko kung meron ba nito o wala at anong nangyari dito, so I can have an answer without going to different offices to ask,” he said.

[I told them it must be under PAGCOR. All gaming operations in the Philippines under PAGCOR because I have control. I will only need to call one office to ask if they have the money or not, so I can have an answer without going to different offices to ask.]

Under its mandate, PAGCOR is required to regulate the gaming industry, generate revenues for the Philippine government's socio-civic and national development programs, and help promote the tourism industry.

Latest data available indicate that the agency generated about P18 billion in revenues for the year as of April 25, with operations at 90% to 100%. This is expected to climb further in the second half of the year.

PAGCOR Chair and Chief Executive Officer Andrea Domingo last week said e-sabong should have an independent regulator, noting that the controversies surrounding the industry are impacting other gaming operations.

E-sabong operations have faced issues such as the disappearance of persons involved in the industry, along with its continued operations even during the Holy Week.

Domingo also explained that an e-sabong event pushed through during the observance of Good Friday, April 15, because mayors approved permits for traditional operations, which were then livestreamed.

Domingo said e-sabong operations contribute some 8% to 9% of the total income of the agency, contributing about P650 million monthly to PAGCOR’s gross gaming revenues.

She noted that the need to have an agency dedicated to it comes as the industry is a hybrid, with the traditional cockfighting operations controlled by local government units while PAGCOR controls the online betting. — BM, GMA News