Senate of the Philippines

Senate panel wants PNP, NBI to keep probing Atong Ang over missing ‘sabungeros’

Mara Cepeda
Senate panel wants PNP, NBI to keep probing Atong Ang over missing ‘sabungeros’

E-SABONG. Charlie 'Atong' Ang defends himself against allegations in a Senate hearing on March 21, 2022, as senators look into the disappearances of cockfighters.

Voltaire Domingo/Senate PRIB

Businessman Atong Ang has denied allegations linking him to the disappearances of several cockfighters since 2021

MANILA, Philippines – A Senate committee is seeking further investigation of businessman Charlie “Atong” Ang and his online sabong or cockfighting firm Lucky 8 Star Quest over alleged involvement in the disappearances of several sabungeros or cockfighters since 2021.

This was among the recommendations listed by the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs in its Committee Report No. 646 uploaded on the Senate website on Thursday, May 26. The panel is chaired by Senator Ronald dela Rosa, former chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

As of Thursday, the report had been signed by Dela Rosa, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and senators Bong Revilla, Risa Hontiveros, and Leila de Lima.

The committee is recommending that the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) conduct a “further investigation” of the officers and employees of Lucky 8 Star Quest, including Ang himself.

In seeking a further probe into Ang and his e-sabong firm, the Senate panel said the businessman’s name was “repeatedly mentioned by witnesses during the hearing and operator of the arenas in Manila, Laguna, and Batangas, where the missing persons were last seen.”

Senators also recommended further investigation of individuals who “intentionally gave false or fabricated information to mislead law enforcement agencies” in their own probes.

“When there is sufficient evidence, file cases of obstruction of justice, false testimony, and other appropriate charges,” said the committee report. 

The Senate panel also wants the police and the NBI to keep investigating all reported cases of missing sabungeros “until they are finally resolved.” 

The Senate committee had investigated the cases of some 34 cockfighters who went missing from April 2021 to January 2022, leaving dozens of families fearful for their lives as they struggle to stay afloat without their breadwinners. 

Ang’s Lucky 8 Star Quest operates the three arenas where most of the missing cockfighters were last seen. In one Senate hearing, a relative of a missing sabungero showed a video of Ang warning agents who were supposedly soliciting e-sabong bets through illegal sites. 

Ang himself appeared several times during the Senate investigation to deny allegations against him, including claims he could allegedly make sabungeros disappear for game fixing. 

Four women relatives of e-sabong master agent Ricardo “Jonjon” Lasco in San Pablo City, Laguna, also implicated two police intelligence officers in Lasco’s disappearance: patrolman Roy Navarete and staff sergeant Daryl Paghangaan. The cops denied the accusations. 

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the suspension of e-sabong operations in the country on May 3. He initially hyped up its economic benefits, but later changed his mind amid the unsolved disappearances of personalities involved in e-sabong. 

The Senate committee recommended that the PNP and the Department of the Interior and Local Government keep an eye out for any possible illegal or unauthorized e-sabong operations following Duterte’s directive. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.