Duterte denies supporting e-sabong suspension — Pagcor

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has denied favoring the suspension of e-sabong licenses, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) Chairperson and Chief Executive Andrea Domingo said on Friday, citing her conversation with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

This comes days after Sen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa announced that the president supported the suspension of the licenses of seven e-sabong companies. As the Chairman of the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, Dela Rosa is currently leading the senate probes surrounding the 31 missing individuals linked to e-sabong operations.

"I asked the Executive Secretary (ES), 'Sir, does the president really allow the suspension of [e-sabong] operations, according to news reports?' ES answered that, 'I asked the president about that, Andrea. He says he never said anything about it," Domingo said in a mix of Filipino and English during a hearing on the disappearances of the 31 'sabungeros' on Friday.

Right after, Dela Rosa stood by his previous statements and said he had personally spoken with Duterte who told him otherwise.

Dela Rosa earlier claimed that he "got the impression that Duterte supported the Senate's call urging Pagcor to suspend the licenses of e-sabong operators", after speaking with him during the wedding of the President's grandson in Davao City.

A week ago, the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs agreed to file a resolution urging Pagcor to temporarily halt e-sabong operations across the country until they find an acceptable conclusion to the fates of the missing sabungeros.

If Pagcor agrees to suspend all e-sabong operations, these companies stand to be affected:

  • Belvedere Vista Corp.
  • Lucky 8 Star Quest Inc.,
  • Visayas Cockers Club Inc.
  • Jade Entertainment and Gaming Technologies Inc.
  • Newin Cockers Alliance Gaming Corp.
  • Philippine Cockfighting International Inc.
  • Golden Buzzer Inc.

Industry data showed that e-sabong is a P50-billion industry.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros earlier said that the state should continue investigating the cases of the missing individuals linked to the online cockfighting events, after the Senate discovered that the disappearances of the sabungeros in question, allegedly involved "game-fixing, the participation of armed men, the supposed lack of CCTV footage, and the circulation of fake photos."

READ: Probe into missing 'sabungeros' should continue despite suspension of e-sabong, Hontiveros says

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