A proactive approach to thwart new cases of abductions and disappearance of individuals engaged in online cockfighting pending the resolution of the cases of 31 “missing” sabungeros was how Senator Win Gatchalian described the move taken by the Senate to have the licenses of e-sabong operators suspended.
“Buhay ng mga kababayan natin ang isinasaalang-alang ng Senado sa pansamantalang pagpapatigil ng operasyon ng e-sabong. Lubos na nakakabahala na nawalang parang bula at walang bakas ng kinaroroonan ang 31 sabungero. Ngunit mas nakakaalarma na wala man lang anumang tinutumbok ang mga imbestigador kung sino ang nasa likod ng mga pangyayaring ito,” the re-electionist senator said.
Gatchalian, co-author of the filed Senate Resolution No. 996, urged the Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to heed the senators’ call. PAGCOR, operating under the Office of the President, is the government agency that regulates the operations and issues licenses to e-sabong operations.
“As a responsible and responsive partner of the government in its nation-building programs, PAGCOR should take into serious consideration the welfare of the public in the wake of the reported abductions and disappearance of a number of individuals that are apparently related to e-sabong operations. PAGCOR should uphold the integrity of the gaming industry,” he stressed.
The said resolution, signed by 22 senators, expresses the sense of the Senate to strongly urge PAGCOR to suspend the license to operate of e-sabong operators and to immediately stop all activities related to e-sabong until there is an acceptable conclusion to what happened to the missing sabungeros.
Based on the presentation of the Philippine National Police (PNP) during last week’s Senate hearing, it was confirmed that there were six incidents involving 31 individuals who were reported missing by their relatives and family after they visited the cockpit arenas in Manila and Southern Luzon.
As the abduction cases appear to be well-planned and believed to have been executed by trained and organized groups, law enforcement agencies admitted to Senate probers that they had difficulties in conducting investigations due to lack or absence of material evidence such as CCTV footage.
Although the call to suspend e-sabong operations has the backing of President Duterte, the country’s Chief Executive has yet to issue an official order.