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MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte justified his decision to not suspend “e-sabong” or online cockfighting operations, saying the government earns P640 million from it every month.
“Kayo baka nagdududa kayo bakit hindi ko hininto. Hindi ko hininto kasi kailagan ng pera sa e-sabong ng gobyerno (You might suspect me of something because I did not stop it. I did not stop it because the government needs the money from e-sabong),” Duterte said during his public address aired late Tuesday night, March 29.
“I make it public now, it’s 640 million a month. In years time, it’s billions plus. Saan tayo mag hahanap ng ganoong pera na kadali? (Where do we get that money that easy?)” he asked.
Earlier this month, Malacañang issued a memorandum dated March 8 stating that operations of e-sabong licensees not being investigated for violations can continue even as police and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) conduct a probe into breaches of e-sabong agreements. This was despite the insistence of Duterte ally Senator Ronald dela Rosa towards putting a stop into the operations.
The Palace memorandum was in response to Senate Resolution No. 996 where senators urged Malacañang to order the suspension of online cockfighting while the disappearances of some e-sabong players had yet to be solved.
Malacañang ordered the Philippine National Police and National Bureau of Investigation to conduct a “thorough investigation” into the disappearance of at least 34 e-sabong players and to submit reports on the probe to the Office of the President “within 30 days from the issuance of this order.”