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Philippines E-sabong Platforms Shut Down After Mass Sweep

Some malicious entities are ignoring a call to end e-sabong in the Philippines. Crackdowns are likely going to intensify, with a list of platforms, including eight on Facebook, to soon be forced out of business.

In one of his last actions before leaving office, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered an end to e-sabong, the online wagering on cockfights. Some platforms have been testing their luck, though, continuing to operate despite the ban.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) revealed today that a number of social media sites and pages engaged in illegal e-sabong activity were referred to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). The gaming regulator and casino operator will review the names for accuracy. It will then pass it on to the Department of Information and Communications Technology and Facebook to block access.

Cutting Out the Riff-Raff

Brigadier General Robert Rodriguez of the PNP’s Anti-Cybercrime Group explained that the group already submitted a special report to Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, the head of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, detailing its activity. In a statement to reporters, he said that the group conducted an investigation into websites and social media platforms. The result was the confirmation that many were illegally hosting e-sabong operations.

Bernard Yang, a PNP colonel and Deputy Director of Operations, added that there are currently 12 websites and eight pages on Facebook in operation. He stated that only two of the 12 were registered in the Philippines, while the rest were located overseas. This indicates that administrators are not located in the Philippines, but are operating there.

Police Lieutenant General Vicente Danao also participated in a press briefing on the subject today. The PNP officer-in-charge emphasized that the police forces need to watch out for illegal online gambling among their ranks. He warned that severe punishments await those who violate the order.

Danao stressed that there are reports of police participation, but that these are likely just isolated and unvalidated incidents. Still, there appears to be willful betting taking place, which the PNP won’t tolerate.

Illegal Gambling Crackdown Continues

Sabong is legal, and e-sabong had gained traction over the past 18 months because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it also led to numerous high-profile concerns, including the disappearance of a number of participants.

Now, police will have to add the task of breaking up illegal e-sabong operations to their list. The list already keeps them busy, and a recent major bust is evidence of the ongoing battles.

Police in Central Visayas seized a total of PHP12.8 million (US$244,736) worth of “shabu” during a 24-hour synchronized raid in the region. Shabu is a regional colloquialism for methamphetamines.

They carried out a series of raids targeting illegal drugs, gambling, wanted individuals, and firearms from midnight on May 21 until midnight on May 22. Police in Central Visayas made 243 arrests during their operation against illegal gambling.

The police arrested 604 suspects and seized 1.8 kilos worth of suspected shabu, according to the Police Regional Office of Central Visayas. They also captured at least 25 of the most wanted individuals in the region, and 181 additional wanted persons. In addition, the police seized 233 firearms and one explosive device during the operation.

This was just the latest successful Synchronized Enhanced Managing Police Operations (SEMPO) for police. On May 4, Central Visayas police seized PHP23 million (US$439,990) in shabu and arrested 135 on drug-related charges.


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