Press Release
February 24, 2022

Tolentino questions PAGCOR's authority to regulate e-sabong license

MANILA - Senator Francis 'Tol' Tolentino questioned the supposed legal authority of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to grant e-sabong/online sabong operators license to operate.

Tolentino made the remarks during Thursday's inquiry of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, amid the reported mysterious disappearances of several cockfight aficionados involved in e-sabong games.

According to Tolentino, there is no such provision under Republic Act No. 9487 or the so-called Revised PAGCOR Charter that the country's gambling regulatory body has any legal jurisdiction to issue any license to e-sabong operators to operate--including PAGCOR's regulatory framework for online cockfights and the supposed creation of an e-sabong licensing department.

"Saan nag-ugat ang karapatan ninyo, ang authority na mag issue ng prangkisa sa e-sabong? Nagke-claim kayo na may delegated authority na wala naman po sa Republic Act No. 9487," said Tolentino.

Tolentino stressed that the "games of numbers" like cockfighting are not included in the authority covered by PAGCOR under RA 9487.

Diane Erica Jogno, PAGCOR Acting Assistant Vice President for E-Sabong Department admitted to members of the Senate panel that their supposed authority on granting e-sabong licenses are only based on separate legal opinions previously issued by the Office of the Solicitor General (SolGen) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) in May 2018 and January 2021 respectively, as well as another memorandum earlier issued by the Office of the Executive Secretary.

Tolentino stressed PAGCOR's 'broad interpretation' of RA 9487 through the separate opinions issued by the DOJ and SolGen has enabled a 'gross misrepresentation' over their questionable authority on regulating e-sabong.

"Sila na po yung nag extend ng kapangyarihan nila, sila pa po ang nagbigay sa sarili nila ng kapangyarihang i-interpret yung kapangyarihang iginawad nila sa kanilang sarili," the senator added.

Senator Joel Villanueva backed Tolentino's manifestation during the inquiry, adding that when RA 9487 was being debated in the Lower House wayback in the 13th Congress, a provision was distinctly placed under Section 10, in which the nature and term of PAGCOR's authority shall not extend licenses to other games like cockfighting.

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