8 suspects linked to missing cockfighters identified — DILG

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 16) — Police have identified at least eight suspects linked to the disappearance of more than 30 cockfight players and enthusiasts, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said on Wednesday.

“Nais namin ibalita na at least eight suspects ang ating na-identify,” said Año during President Rodrigo Duterte’s weekly public address.

[Translation: We would like to report that at least eight suspects have been identified.]

“Sa oras na makuha natin ang sapat na ebidensya ay hihingin na natin ang tulong ng korte," he also said. "Sa bisa ng mga warrant, agad natin na hahanapin ang mga suspects na ito upang mabigyang linaw na ang mga insidente.”

[Translation: We will seek assistance from the court once we gathered enough evidence. Through warrants, we will immediately look for these suspects to shed light on the incidents.]

The Philippine National Police has created a special investigation task group to look into the disappearance of 31 cockfight players in e-sabong or online cockfights since last year.

Based on police observation, Año said that most of the persons of interest are either security or management personnel of cockpit arenas.

Moreover, the police also noticed that the last location of missing persons where within the premises of cockpit arenas and all involved arenas have no CCTVs installed.

Authorities also noted that all the cockpit arenas being investigated are managed by the same administrator and operator, said Año.

Investigation likewise showed that most of the vehicles used by the missing individuals were abandoned near their residences.

The Senate earlier transmitted a resolution to Malacañang and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. seeking to suspend e-sabong operations following the reports of disappearances.

However, President Duterte rejected the suspension as the e-sabong generates billions of revenues for the country.