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Witness tags Manila Arena guards in disappearance of six sabungeros

A witness tagged the personnel and guards of the Manila Arena to the disappearance of six missing cockfighting enthusiasts, according to Emil Sumangil’s “24 Oras” report on Friday.

The 22-year-old witness, a chicken handler known as alias “Arvie,” said he saw the Manila Arena guards approaching the six missing individuals past 7 p.m.

The Philippine National Police (PNP)’s Special Investigation Group Sabungero (SITG) and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) formally filed complaints of kidnapping and serious illegal detention against the management and security personnel of the Manila Arena.

Charges were filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ) against: Julie Patidongan Aguilar, Mark Carlo Zabala Evangelista, Virgilio Bayog Pilar, Roberto Matillano Jr. Guillema, Jonas Alingasa Alegre, Johnry Consolacion Recapor, Herolden Alonto, Gler Cudilla, and alias Sir Chief and six John Does.

The PNP initially reported that the missing cockfighting enthusiasts disappeared after participating in a cockfight in Sta. Cruz on January 13.

According to the Office of the Prosecutor General, the security personnel of the Manila Arena allegedly acted in a conspiracy when they went to the cock house where the victims were, held them against their will, and loaded them in a gray van.

It said that one of the victims was able to use his phone to contact his father and told him that he was being abducted.

The father, on the other hand, appealed to the owner and the security personnel of the Manila Arena to release his son.

GMA News had sought the reaction of the Manila Arena on the issue.

Meanwhile, the family of the missing cockfighting enthusiasts were hoping that they would still be found alive.

“Halos dalawang buwan na. Nagpapasalamat din ako, nakapagsampa na kami ng reklamo,” Enesto Baccay, father of Marlon and James, said.

(It's been almost two months since they are missing. I am still thankful that we filed charges against the possible suspects.)

“Nakakalungkot pa rin, kasi hindi ko alam kung makikita pa namin siya,” Janina, live in partner of John Claude Inonog, said.

(We are still very sad because we still don't know where they are.)

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

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

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. — Richa Noriega/DVM, GMA News