Families offer P250,000 reward for info on missing sabungeros
The families of the missing online cockfighting or “e-sabong” enthusiasts are offering a P250,000 reward to anyone who can provide information that could lead to the recovery of their loved ones.
In Emil Sumangil’s report on “24 Oras” on Wednesday, the relatives of Ferdinand Dizon, Manny Magbanua, Mark Paul Fernandine and Melbert John Santos said they raised the monetary reward in the hope of obtaining leads on the whereabouts of their kin, who went missing almost five months ago.
The four victims are among the cases being investigated by the Security Task Group- Sabungero of the Philippine National Police (PNP) which also involves the disappearance of other enthusiasts in a cockpit arena in Sta. Cruz, Laguna on January 14.
“Ako na po ang nagmamakaawa sa inyo, kung ano po naging kasalanan niya patawad po. Ako na po ang humihingi ng sorry sa inyo. Pakibalik na lang po ang anak ko, pati na po mga kasamahan niyang nawawala,” Mark Paul's mother Mylene Fernandine said.
(I am begging you. I am apologizing for whatever wrongdoing my son has done. Please return him and his companions to us.)
Her appeal was echoed by Rovelyn Ebit, Santos’ partner, who admitted that she has kept his disappearance from their child.
“Sinasabi niya ‘mommy, tara puntahan natin si daddy’. Sabi pa nga po niya, yung bike raw po niya ide-drive niya papunta sa daddy nya. Ako po walang maisagot,” Ebit said.
(He'd say, ‘mommy, let’s go to daddy. He's say that he would ride his bike to get to his father… I cannot answer him.)
Other relatives, meanwhile, were urging the cockfighters’ financier Julius Sabillo to appear before authorities and help with the probe.
“Sana siya ay magpakita para malinawan. Kasi unang-una, ako yung pwedeng maghabol talaga sa kaniya kasi inarkila niya ang van ko. Siya ang dapat lumitaw talaga,” Albert Santos, father of Melbert John, said.
(We are just hoping he will explain himself. First of all, I am the one who can go after him because he rented my van.)
The sabungeros' families also want information on the identity of a man who withdrew money using Santos’ ATM card.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), for its part, confirmed it had closed down seven illegal e-sabong sites with the help of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).
“Sa report na binigay sa amin ng PNP, meron pa tayong na-identify doon na 12 websites na nag-ooperate ng e-sabong. At mayroong eight Facebook pages kaya kami ay nakipag-ugnayan na rin sa DICT. Kahapon, nangako sila sa DILG na gagawin nila ang lahat. Nangako sila na makikipagtulungan sila kasama na rin ang National Telecommunications Office para itong mga website ay maipasara,” DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said.
(Based on the PNP reports, we have identified 12 websites that are operating e-sabong. There are also eight Facebook pages. We have already coordinated with the DICT. They promised us, along with the NTC, they would help us to foreclose these sites.)
However, the DILG expressed alarm on the supposed inaction of Facebook on their request to take down the pages allegedly encouraging Filipinos to engage in the online gambling.
“Nababahala po kami dito dahil ang Facebook is a business entity operating in the Philippines and they’re bound by the laws of the Philippines. E-sabong is illegal. We are disappointed with dahil kung sila ay mag-shutdown ng ibang pages, mabilis but in this case, it’s as if they’re tolerating the illegal act,” said Malaya.
(We are alarmed by this because Facebook is a business entity operating in the Philippines and they’re bound by the laws of the Philippines. E-sabong is illegal. We are disappointed because when it comes to other sites, they’re fast to take it down but in this case, it’s as if they’re tolerating the illegal act.)
GMA News sought the comment of Meta, the parent company of Facebook, but has yet to receive their response as of press time. — Sundy Locus/BM, GMA News