Eight linked to missing cockfight enthusiasts facing kidnapping, illegal detention charges

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 21) — Kidnapping and illegal detention charges were filed against the eight suspects allegedly involved in the disappearance of 34 cockfight enthusiasts, the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) said on Monday.

PNP-CIDG Director PMGen. Eliseo Cruz said three witnesses identified the eight suspects.

"Based on the sworn statements of a vital witness, he identified six suspects while two other witnesses also identified two other suspects," Cruz said during the Senate hearing on the disappearance of cockfight enthusiasts.

READ: 8 suspects linked to missing cockfighters identified — DILG

The PNP-CIDG created a special investigation task group to look into the abduction of cockfight enthusiasts in Manila, Bulacan, Laguna and Batangas last year. Authorities also gathered evidence to support the testimonies of the witnesses.

"To ensure an airtight case for the prosecution of the suspects, the PNP legal officers and CIDG investigators thoroughly reviewed the sworn statements of the witnesses and other pieces of evidence," Cruz said.

"Last March 18, 2022, a case of kidnapping and serious illegal detention punishable under Article 268 of the Revised Penal Code was filed against the identified eight suspects and other John Does before the Department of Justice," he added.

The Senate has transmitted a resolution to Malacañang and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. seeking to suspend the e-sabong operations following reports of disappearances. President Rodrigo Duterte has rejected the suspension as the e-sabong generates billions of revenues for the government.

Is Atong Ang involved?

At the Senate hearing, a witness said gaming tycoon Atong Ang gave orders to hold him and his companions for cheating in online 'sabong.'

The witness, who shed light on the disappearance of cockfight enthusiasts, said they were brought before a police officer who made them choose between being framed for drug charges or be killed.

Ang denied the allegations, and said it was part of a conspiracy. He added a competitor was behind it.

Ang said he only uses legal means to deal with issues, and cited that at one time he reported illegal e-sabong websites to police.

CNN Philippines' Eimor Santos contributed to this report.