crimes in the Philippines

TIMELINE: What happened to missing sabungeros?

Jairo Bolledo

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TIMELINE: What happened to missing sabungeros?

MISSING. Families and relatives of missing sabungeros attend a dialogue with Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla at the DOJ office in Manila on January 13, 2023.


Here's a timeline of events – from the day the sabungeros went missing – to the latest update from government officials

MANILA, Philippines – The case of missing sabungeros (cockfighting aficionados) has yet to be solved years after they went missing.

As of 2023, authorities have yet to bring justice to families of the disappeared players.

Here’s a timeline of events – from the day the sabungeros went missing one by one – to the latest update from government officials.


August 30, 2021

Cops, claiming to be operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), arrest e-sabong master agent Ricardo Lasco for the alleged crime of large scale estafa. The cops also take several valuables inside Lasco’s house, while his family was held in the living room, Lasco’s family says.

Lasco’s family positively identify Police Staff Sergeant Daryl Paghangaan and patrolmen Roy Navarete and Rigel Brosas as among the armed men who entered their residence at CG Brion Subdivision, Brgy. San Lucas, San Pablo City in Laguna.


January 13, 2022

Six sabungeros leave Tanay, Rizal at around 1 am and head to the Manila Arena to join a 6-cock stag derby. Later on, the victims are forced to board a gray van at around 7:30 pm and are never seen again, the Department of Justice (DOJ) says.

The victims are as follows:

  • John Claude Inonog
  • James E. Baccay
  • Marlon E. Baccay
  • Rondel F. Cristorum
  • Mark Joseph L. Velasco
  • Rowel G. Gomez
February 28, 2022

Former Senate president Vicente Sotto III says former president Rodrigo Duterte agreed to suspend e-sabong operations in the country.

March 1, 2022

Former presidential spokesperson secretary Karlo Nograles says Malacañang did “not have any word yet on that” – referring to Duterte’s position on e-sabong operations.

March 4, 2022

During a Senate hearing, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) says it has yet to resolve the issue on whether or not to suspend online cockfighting. Senator Ronald dela Rosa figures in a heated argument with then-PAGCOR chief Andrea Domingo because the senator insists Duterte supports the suspension of e-sabong licenses.

However, Domingo insists Malacañang has yet to give them advice on how to address the disappearances of sabungeros.

March 9, 2022

Malacañang issues a memorandum, which states that operations of e-sabong licensees not being investigated for alleged violations can continue.

The Palace also orders the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the NBI to conduct a thorough probe into the disappearances and submit the report to the Office of the President “within 30 days from the issuance of this order.”

March 21, 2022

Witnesses implicate Police Staff Sergeant Paghangaan and Patrolman Navarete on the alleged abduction and disappearance of Lasco. The four women relatives of the missing sabungero names the cops during a Senate hearing.

On the same day, businessman Charlie “Atong” Ang denies allegations that he allegedly could make a sabungero go missing for P5,000.

March 29, 2022

Duterte justifies his decision to not suspend e-sabong and says the government earns around P640 million from it every month.

Kayo, baka nagdududa kayo, bakit hindi ko hininto. Hindi ko hininto kasi kailangan 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 says during his public address.

“I make it public now, it’s P640 million a month. In years time, it’s billions plus. Saan tayo maghahanap ng ganoong pera na kadali?” he adds. (Where do we get that money that easily?)

TIMELINE: What happened to missing sabungeros?
May 3, 2022

After hyping e-sabong’s supposed economic benefits and giving the order not to suspend it, Duterte says he will order putting a stop to e-sabong. Duterte says he ordered the interior department to conduct a survey and found that e-sabong’s social impact is worrying.

May 26, 2022

The Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs uploads its Committee Report No. 646, which seeks further investigation into Atong Ang and his online sabong or cockfighting firm Lucky 8 Star Quest. The Senate committee also seeks to check Ang’s alleged involvement in the disappearances of sabungeros since 2021.

The committee also recommends the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the NBI to conduct a “further investigation.” Senators Dela Rosa, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Bong Revilla, Risa Hontiveros, and former senators Ralph Recto, Franklin Drilon, and Leila de Lima, sign the committee report.

December 2, 2022

The families of missing sabungeros meet with and agree to hold regular dialogues with the DOJ to discuss the disappearances. On the same day, the justice department says it has already met around 20 families of the missing players.

Meanwhile, the CIDG also says complaints have been filed against cops in relation to Lasco’s case, and another complaint in relation to other missing sabungeros.

December 19, 2022

The DOJ announces it has indicted Paghangaan, Navarete, and Brosas over the robbery and kidnapping of Lasco. The DOJ panel says it had found probable cause to indict the cops, adding that the case will be filed before the Regional Trial Court of San Pablo City.

The justice department’s resolution is dated November 25, but is announced only on December 19.

December 23, 2022

The DOJ says it had also indicted six individuals over kidnapping and serious illegal detention for their alleged involvement in the disappearance of sabungeros who went missing in Manila in January 2022. The DOJ’s panel of prosecutors says it found probable cause to indict the individuals for six counts for each the charges.

The DOJ indicts the following, adding that the cases will be filed before the Regional Trial Court of Manila:

  • Julie A. Patidongan
  • Gleer Codilla
  • Mark Carlo E. Zabala
  • Virgilio P. Bayog
  • Johnry R. Consolacion
  • Roberto G. Matillano Jr.


February 14, 2023

Justice Secretary Remulla announces that a P6-million reward will be given to anyone who could give information about the whereabouts of the suspects in the disappearance of sabungeros in Manila Arena. He makes the announcement during his meeting with the families of missing sabungeros.

February 17, 2023

The CIDG releases a photo of the six suspects tagged in the disappearance of sabungeros in Manila Arena.

The CIDG says the poster’s release was based on Remulla’s announcement that a P6-million reward will be given to those who can give information about the suspects’ whereabouts.

March 25, 2023

The DOJ says it will probe into reports that people have been visiting the homes of the missing sabungeros, serving legal documents, and taking photos of their relatives. Remulla says the families expressed concern over the said incidents.

May 8, 2023

Remulla says the justice department might have to dismiss one of the pending complaints in relation to the missing sabungeros. He cites time constraints and lack of evidence.

Meanwhile, the DOJ chief does not mention which of the complaints will be junked. –

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.