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Online ‘sabong’ may be illegal – solons

On-line “sabong” (cockfight) betting that has proliferated in Luzon and a number of Metro Manila localities may be illegal.

This view was aired by lawmakers during a hearing on a congressional inquiry into the operations of off-cockpit betting by the operators of the Manila Jockey Club (MJC) and the Manila Cockers Club (MCC).

Parañaque City Rep. Gus Tambunting, chairman of the House Committee on Games and Amusement that launched a congressional inquiry in aid of legislation, said committee members remain skeptical with the MCC’s claim that its operation is legal in view of the issuance of business permits and licenses by local government units where on-line betting stations are situated.

In House Resolution 598, Rep. Jose T. Panganiban Jr. assailed the operation of on-line cockfight and betting as a violation of the Cockfighting Law of 1974 and Presidential Decree 1602 creating the Philippine Gamefowl Commission.

“It has been observed that ‘sabong’ has gone digital and some internet-savvy gambling lords have taken advantage of the people’s interest in cockfighting by offering live-stream videos of actual cockfighting events,” Panganiban said.

Both managed by the group of lawyer Alfonso Reyno Jr., the MJC and MCC are behind the live cable television and internet streaming of horse racing and cockfights for off-track and off-cockpit betting, respectively.

Testifying before the House panel, Reyno maintained that the laws cited by Panganiban have all been “superceded” by the Local Government Code that grants local government units power over the operation of cockfighting events and cockpits.

The MCC currently operates live streaming of cockfights and off-cockpit betting in Quezon City, Pasay City, Manila and other localities in Luzon.

Reacting to Reyno’s defense of the legality of the MCC sabong operations, Games and Amusement Board chairman Abraham Mitra said that under such situation, the agency will no longer issue a renewal of the permit issued by the previous GAB board. (Ben Rosario)