THE PHILIPPINE Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) can suspend online cockfighting operations without presidential approval if it has been recommended by the Senate, the chamber’s president said on Thursday.
“Based on its charter, Pagcor can suspend the licenses or operations of e-sabong operators on its own,” Senate President and vice-presidential candidate Vicent C. Sotto III said in a statement in Filipino. “The mere fact that it brought up the matter to the President indicates that Pagcor does not want to suspend it.”
“If you have the power to grant licenses, you also have the power to suspend,” Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, Sr., his running mate, said in a separate statement.
Under its charter, Pagcor may act against industry players under investigation, as well as those found to have violated the law.
“At least suspend the operation of e-sabong since the recent hearings have already exposed its vulnerability to addiction and criminality,” Mr. Sotto said. “Our government should protect our values and people rather than just the profit it might generate.”
President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Wednesday ordered law enforcers to investigate the disappearance of almost three-dozen small-time online cockfighters, but allowed so-called e-sabong operations to continue.
He also ordered the country’s gaming regulator to investigate violations by online cockfighting licensees and ensure that operators were complying with security requirements, particularly the installation of CCTV systems at gaming sites.
Pagcor chief Andrea D. Domingo told senators at a hearing last week the suspension would affect government revenue.
“The disappointment of the Senate cannot be compared to the disappointment of the families affected — not only the families of the missing persons but also families who are worried over relatives’ addiction to e-sabong,” Mr. Sotto said.
The Senate public order committee has held two hearings on the issue. The chamber only wants the government to suspend, not revoke, online cockfighting licenses, he added. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan