MANILA, Apr 8 (Mabuhay) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday defended e-sabong, saying that the government needs the revenues generated by online cockfighting operations.

In his speech at the groundbreaking ceremony for the OFW Center in Daang Hari, Las Piñas City, Duterte said that he has allowed e-sabong to continue because the pandemic has depleted other funds.

“You know in e-sabong—baka magduda kayo, I don’t know anybody there—it is a transaction by PAGCOR [Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation]. I have the ultimate word on it because it gives us P640 million a month,” Duterte said.

“Kailangan ko ang pera for those expenses na wala sa budget, hindi mo makuha sa budget, so you need money from the outside sources. Ngayon at the end of the year if I have the billions—at P640 million a month ‘yun ang maitulong ko agad [dahil ang] pandemic naubos ang contingency fund ko, pati yung intelligence fund, binigyan ko lang yung pulis, pati yung military. Ang sabi ko you just have to work on it,” he added.

Duterte also reiterated that he may suspend e-sabong if its ill effects on the public are proven.

“Saan ako maghanap ng  P640 million a month, so I allowed it. Ang problema ganito. I have heard itong mga ito nagpupusta lahat, nagsasangla na para magpusta, ‘yun ang sabi ng taga-labas. If it is true, hihintuin ko ‘yan, masigurado ninyo. Before I go I will stop it kung totoo, but I have to sacrifice I said the billions that you would have earned kung nandyan ‘yan,” Duterte said.

“So it’s a police work. Magtrabaho kayo, solve the crime, kahit sino man diyan you have mentioned so many personalities there and all are capable of doing it because they have criminal mind,” he added.

(So it’s a police work. Get to work, solve the crime no matter who they are. They mention so many personalities there and all are capable of doing it because they have a criminal mind.)

Several lawmakers and groups have appealed for a stop to e-sabong, after over 30 individuals linked to its operations have gone missing since last year.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Investigation Group Sabungero (SITG) and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) earlier filed complaints of kidnapping and serious illegal detention against the management and security personnel of a cockfighting arena.

The PNP initially reported that the missing cockfighting enthusiasts disappeared after participating in a cockfight in Sta. Cruz on January 13.

Duterte earlier said that the disappearance of persons involved in e-sabong should not be blamed on online cockfighting operations but on “evil men doing something wrong.” (MNS)

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