Duterte stops e-sabong operations

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 3) — President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the immediate end of online cockfighting operations known as e-sabong.

He made the announcement during his address taped on Monday, with final details set to be released on Tuesday by Interior Secretary Eduardo Año.

The President said the P640 million monthly revenue collected from e-sabong operations is not worth the social damage caused by the gambling activity.

"Ang amin sana, buwis lang ang habol namin dito," he said. "But may naririnig na ako, loud enough, loud and very clear to me that it was working against our values and ang impact sa pamilya at tao."

[Translation: We are only after the tax collection. But after the stories I've heard, it was very loud and clear to me that it was working against our values. It is impacting people and their families.]

Duterte earlier ordered the Department of the Interior and Local Government to investigate e-sabong operations, including stories of people pawning possessions just to play the popular betting game. The agency surveyed over 8,400 individuals on Apr. 19 and 20 - with 62% wanting to put a stop to e-sabong.

“The DILG welcomes the President’s decision to stop e-Sabong. Government policies must take heed of the pulse of the people. This decision is rooted in a survey reflecting the sentiment of the people. Hindi ito bara-bara na desisyon [This wasn’t a rushed decision],” said Sec. Eduardo Año, also assuring they will immediately implement Duterte’s directive.

The chief executive previously rejected the proposal of senators back in March to suspend e-sabong amid an investigation into the disappearance of more than 30 cockfight enthusiasts since April last year.

Despite the delayed termination, senators welcomed Duterte's decision.

"The 24 senators were never wrong in supporting the Senate resolution urging Pagcor to stop the operations of e-sabong. I have no further recommendations to the President," said Senator Ronald 'Bato' dela Rosa, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order.

The Philippine National Police, meanwhile, said it will mobilize an information drive among personnel once a detailed order is out.

“If it will entail a crackdown to all persons operating the online cockfighting, then we will do our job in enforcing what needs to be done,” said PNP spokesperson PBGEN Roderick Augustus Alba, emphasizing the importance of proper coordination with concerned agencies.