The Senate, before adjourning the last plenary session of the 18th Congress Thursday night, adopted the findings in a committee report on the Senators’ inquiry into the unsolved case of 34 missing individuals believed abducted in disputes related to e-sabong anomalies.
Conducted by the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, chaired by Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, the probers recommended the adoption of 18 administrative and 7 legislative actions based on findings in he case of the 34 still missing e-sabong players.
After four hearings, committee chairman Sen. dela Rosa disclosed probers were able to establish that 7 cases involving 32 victims, out of 8 reported “abduction incidents, were connected to sabong and e-sabong operations.”
Noting there was similarity in the pattern of the abductions, De la Rosa surmised the probable motives were game-fixing called “tyope” and “cloning” of an e-sabong website, citing the case of victim Ricardo Lasco Jr, who was a master agent abducted in his house in San Pablo, Laguna.
In his 77-page Committee Report No. 646, Sen. Dela Rosa also prodded the State-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) to establish a mechanism that will “deny minors from gaining access to electronic gambling platforms and for money transfer facilities to strictly implement the “Know-Your-Customer” policy.”
At the same time, the senator suggested suspending business permits of cockpit arenas found violating ordinances mandating installation of CCTV cameras, collection by the Bureau of Internal Revenue of tax dues from e-sabong operators, and “no let-up in investigation by the police and the National Bureau of Investigation on cases of the missing individuals.”
Moreover, Sen. Dela Rosa also prodded the Department of Social Welfare and Development to extend assistance to families of missing cockfight aficionados, and the Department of Education to “include in the curriculum discussions on the perils of gambling and its nature as a social ill, based on Republic Act No. 11476, otherwise known as the “GMRC and Values Education Act.”
As for remedial legislation, de la Rosa is also mulling options to recommend possible amendments to Presidential Decree No. 449, or the “Cockfighting Law of 1974,” to include strict monitoring of cockfighting activities, increase in penalty for obstruction of justice “to deter concealment of a committed crime, passage of a law mandating local government units to install CCTV cameras in off-site betting stations and commercial establishments, and setting-up of a reward system for witnesses of crimes.”
Enlisting Senate President Sotto’s support, Sen. de la Rosa said: “I am praying and wishing that there will be no more abductions and missing cases related to e-sabong, saying: “Nagdarasal at humihiling na sana ay hindi na madagdagan at maulit pa ang pagkawala ng ating mga kababayan ng dahil lamang sa sabong, e-sabong o iba pang paraan ng sugal’”
In his sponsorship on the committee report, Dela Rosa, a former National Police top Cop likewise likened gambling addiction to drug addiction, warning that “ang pagkalulong sa sugal ay hindi nalalayo sa epekto ng pagkalulong sa droga at iba pang bisyo na dapat nating bigyang importansya at solusyon. Ang pagtatapos ng pagdinig sa isyung ito ay hindi nangangahulugang pagtatapos sa usapin patungkol sa e-sabong ngunit simula pa lamang sa mahabang diskuyon ng mga isyung pumapalibot dito.”
He added: “Though e-sabong is an industry known to be raking billions of pesos and is claimed to be of help to the country and community, it will never be as significant and as treasured as compared to the lives of our fellow Filipinos,” asserting that a “human life cannot be equated with money.”
Image credits: PNA