Press Release
March 3, 2022

Dela Rosa says vital witnesses may appear in next e-sabong Senate hearing

SENATOR Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa on Wednesday disclosed that vital witnesses may attend the second hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs in connection with its ongoing investigation, in aid of legislation, on the cases of abduction of 31 e-sabong (online cockfighting) enthusiasts.

Dela Rosa, chairman of the committee, said he is hopeful that the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group will be able to find the witnesses and present it to the committee on its hearing scheduled on Friday, March 4.

In an interview with CNN Philippines, Dela Rosa said that one vital witness, who was with a group of sabungeros, was able to escape while they were leaving the cockfighting arena following the advice to immediately leave coming from a companion in another group of sabungeros who were already being held in the arena. Both groups had members who were abducted.

"Tinawagan sila (very vital witness) nuong isang grupo na 'sumibat na kayo, sumibat na kayo at na-hold kami dito.' Noong sumibat na sila, 'yung isang grupo, palabas sila doon sa compound ng arena, may na-hold pa na kasamahan doon sa pangalawang grupo. So mayroong nakasibat na miyembro ng grupo na 'yun at 'yun ngayon ang very vital witness natin sa kasong ito," Dela Rosa said.

He said other resource persons whom he believed can help shed light on the cases were also invited in the Friday hearing, like the security guards of cockfighting arenas which he considered as "crime scenes."

The former police chief also confirmed that the Office of the President already received the hard copy of the Senate resolution, a copy of which was also sent to the office of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), calling for the suspension of e-sabong operations while the cases of the disappearance of 31 individuals have not yet been resolved.

Dela Rosa said he got the impression that President Duterte has approved the suspension of e-sabong operations during their conversation last Sunday at the wedding of the Chief Executive's grandson.

"I told him about the resolution that is being prepared by the Senate and he said that 'sige, sige, sige, sige.' So, that means agreement or approval as far as I'm concerned," Dela Rosa said.

Senate Proposed Resolution No. 996, signed by 23 senators and filed by Dela Rosa last Monday, expresses the sense of the Senate to strongly urge the Pagcor "to suspend the license to operate of E-Sabong operators and to immediately stop all activities related to E-Sabong until the cases of missing sabungeros are resolved."

Currently, the licensed operators of e-sabong are Belvedere Vista Corporation, Lucky 8 Star Quest, Inc., Visayas Cockers Club, Inc., Jade Entertainment and Gaming Technologies, Inc., Newin Cockers Alliance Gaming Corporation, Philippine Cockfighting International Inc., and Golden Buzzer, Inc.

"On the part of, sa Senado, we are hoping for their (Pagcor) swift and decisive action because, sabi ko nga, hihintayin pa ba natin na madagdagan na naman 'yung numbers ng missing persons dito sa e-sabong kung magpapatuloy 'yan? Mamaya mayroon na namang mangyari na tiyopean (game fixing) at magkakaroon na naman ng abduction," Dela Rosa said.

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