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Duterte on missing sabungeros: Don't blame e-sabong but evil men doing wrong

The disappearance of persons involved in e-sabong should not be blamed on online cockfighting operations but on "evil men doing something wrong", President Rodrigo Duterte said on Thursday.

In a speech at the inauguration of the new Leyte provincial capitol in Palo, Duterte again defended e-sabong and the P640 million a month in revenues that it generated.   

“It's not the fault of the management... it's the fault of evil men doing something wrong tapos nagkaupakan. Iba ang kultura ng mga sabungero at mga sindikato. Nagkabukuhan lang sila eh,” Duterte said.

(The culture among cockfighting enthusiasts and syndicates is different. They just found out things about one another.)

“Ang problema pinatay lahat. Thirty-eight? Thirty-six? Kasama sila sa pustahan e. Sa iba-ibang probinsya para hindi mahalata. Pupusta sa llamado o dehado depende sa usapan,” he said in a mix of Bisaya and Tagalog.

(The problem is they killed everyone. Thirty-eight? Thirty-six? They're involved in the betting. They do so in different provinces so as not to be noticed. They bet on favorites and longshots, depending on their agreements.)

Duterte said the government would lose billions of pesos in revenues if the e-sabong operations were stopped.

He said it was up to the police to stop the crimes involved.

“Let the police solve the problem. Wala na tayong pera, naubos sa COVID. P640 million a month iyan, ilan ang puwedeng mabigyan ng medisina?” he added.

(We have no more money. It ran out due to COVID-19 pandemic response. That's P640 million a month, how many can be given medicine for that amount.)

Duterte earlier said he was not keen on suspending the operation of online cockfight betting considering the billions of income that the government receives from it.

He said that even if he ordered the closure of e-sabong, it would still continue through illegal operations.

The Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs said it would urge Duterte to direct the suspension of the licenses of firms operating online cockfighting until the cases of the missing  cockfighting enthusiasts were resolved.

The Palace also ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to look into the case of the missing sabungeros and submit a report within 30 days.

The PNP said kidnapping and serious illegal detention complaints would be filed against six security personnel over the disappearances of cockfight enthusiasts at the Manila Arena.

The complaints are for the case of the disappearances of Marlon Baccay, James Baccay, Mark Joseph Velasco, Rondel Cristorum, Rowel Gomez, and John Claude Inonog on January 13. —NB, GMA News