]It’s been more than two years since over 30 sabungeros linked to live cockfighting went missing. Just recently, or on September 16, five suspects that are alleged to have taken part in the kidnapping have been arrested in Parañaque City. It took a couple of years, but finally, justice has been moving.
Based on news reports, the suspects have been detained thanks to a warrant of arrest issued by a Manila RTC Branch 40. The arrested individuals were: Julie Patidongan, alias Dondon Mark Carlo Zabala; Virgilio Bayog; Roberto Matillano, Jr.; Johnry R. Consolacion; and Gleer Codilla.
These suspects have been charged with kidnapping and serious illegal detention of the six sabungeros who went missing on January 13, 2022.
Apart from the five individuals, the Criminal Investigation Detection Group (CIDG) also arrested friends of Patidongan, Melchor Neri and Victorino Jocosol after they committed obstruction of justice.
The case of the missing persons has been all over the news. It has even linked Atong Ang, a renowned gaming operator in the Philippines, with the abductions.
Meanwhile, former Presidente Rodrigo Duterte did not even budge to suspend live cockfighting operations until May last year. He justified his decision by pointing out the revenue the industry brings to the country (P640 million) per month. Moreover, it was legal at that time.
“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?)
It may be true that the industry was generating millions of revenue for the government. However, it endangers the welfare of the citizens,
E-Sabong Addiction: A Problem Among Filipinos
Dr. Randy Dellosa discovered that Filipinos are so into cockfighting, and it has become one of the most difficult addictions to manage.
With many sabungeros missing, it is no wonder why it has turned a harmless pastime into something more sinister.
In fact, a mother even sold her baby just to fund her gambling habit; a young man almost lost his family’s life savings chasing his losses.
“Sabong is very culturally condoned and tolerated in the Philippines. [It] can be addictive is because of the culture and festivity. You’re not only going there to bet. There’s a whole culture and environment you are addicted to. Your friends are there; you’re addicted to the noise. It’s easier to get the money and play. It’s very convenient, too, because you don’t have to travel [to the actual cockfighting pits],” said Dr. Dellosa.
This addiction is why many fall victim to organized crime and syndicates associated with gambling. Examples of criminal activities committed were: kidnapping, extortion, human trafficking, and money laundering.
These crimes prompted the Philippine government to proclaim that e-sabong be considered illegal. Those caught playing the prohibited game will be detained and charged with a violation of Presidential Decree No. 1602 or the act on stiffer penalties for illegal gambling.