The Online Cockfighting/E-sabong Ban in the Philippines: Understanding the Decision and its Implications

In a swift and dramatic turn of events, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has enforced an immediate ban on online cockfighting, colloquially known as e-sabong. The decision, announced during a regular address, marks a shift from his previous stance, considering the significant revenue the operations generated.

The Online Cockfighting/E-sabong Ban in the Philippines: Understanding the Decision and its Implications

Understanding the Decision: Duterte's Address

Duterte’s sudden decision to end e-sabong came on the heels of Interior Secretary Eduardo Año’s recommendation. Año’s call to cease e-sabong was based on numerous validation reports from various sources. Duterte endorsed the recommendation, stating that e-sabong negatively impacted people and their families.

e sabong ban

The Implication of E-sabong Ban on Revenue

Before the ban, e-sabong operations generated an impressive Php640 million (US$12 million) in monthly tax collections. However, Duterte emphasized that the societal cost outweighed the financial gain. While substantial, the revenue from tax collection could not justify the continued existence of a sport that harmed societal values.

  • Interior Secretary Eduardo Año’s Recommendations
    Año’s decision was rooted in a holistic understanding of societal impact. In his view, government policies should always consider public sentiment and welfare. His recommendations were grounded in extensive research and data, considering the concerns and needs of the Filipino population.

Public Opinion on E-Sabong

In a current survey by the Department of the Interior and Local Government, 62% of respondents expressed a strong desire to ban e-sabong. However, distressing stories have also emerged, revealing individuals resorting to pawning personal possessions to gamble on e-sabong, underscoring its harmful impact on society.

Findings from the Department of the Interior and Local Government Survey

The results of the survey were decisive. A significant portion of the respondents were against e-sabong, indicating a public distaste for the practice. As a result, the decision to ban e-sabong wasn’t rushed or unilateral but rooted in public sentiment.

  • The Negative Impact on Gamblers
    A severe concern stemming from the survey was the distressing impact on gamblers. Many respondents reported incidents of individuals gambling their possessions away in a desperate attempt to participate in e-sabong. This highlighted the detrimental effect the online sport had on individuals and families.

Link Between E-sabong and Abductions

The ban also followed a series of abductions linked to e-sabong. In addition, 31 disappearances were reported, including men who had recently attended cockfighting matches. These troubling incidents provided further impetus to the decision to ban online cockfighting.

Ongoing Investigations and Unresolved Disappearances

The concerning link between e-sabong and these unresolved disappearances is under investigation. With the men disappearing shortly after attending cockfighting matches, questions about the security and implications of the sport were raised.

  • The Role of Betting in the Bloodsport
    Betting plays a significant part in the bloodsport tradition. However, with its recent connection to numerous disappearances, the negative consequences of betting on e-sabong have come to the forefront.

PAGCOR's Response to the Ban

One of the significant roles of PAGCOR is to ensure responsible gaming. It implements measures to prevent problem gambling and protect the players’ welfare.

Boosting tourism

PAGCOR also contributes to tourism in the country. For example, establishing world-class gaming facilities has drawn tourists from around the world.


PAGCOR's Online Gaming Regulation

Philippine gaming regulator PAGCOR responded cautiously to the ban. Chair and CEO Andrea Domingo expressed concerns over potential legal repercussions. While recognizing the Senate’s resolution, Domingo stated the need for a clear and legal basis to suspend e-sabong operations.

The Licencing Controversy and Legal Ramifications

The licensing controversy further complicated matters. Despite PAGCOR issuing licenses for e-sabong without specific authority from Malacañang, the regulator insisted on seeking Duterte’s explicit permission before suspending operations. This stance was met with opposition, particularly from Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.

  • Opposition from Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon
    Drilon contested PAGCOR’s position. He argued that the power to issue licenses inherently includes the power to suspend them without needing clearance from Malacañang. Drilon’s legal perspective added another layer to the unfolding drama.

The Continuation of the Ban under Marcos

The subsequent administration under President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. continued the suspension of e-sabong operations. The decision was primarily based on the need to protect public morals and safety.

bongbong marcos

The Executive Order

Marcos issued an Executive Order indefinitely suspending online streaming or broadcasting of live cockfights outside arenas or any premises where cockfights were held. The intention behind the order was to prioritize protecting public health and moral values while also striving to enhance public safety and overall well-being.

  • The Impact on Public Morals and Safety
    The decision highlights that the state values the well-being of its people, which includes their health, morals, safety, and overall welfare. To ensure the successful implementation of this priority, PAGCOR has been responsible for working with local government units and other relevant government agencies.

Conclusion: The Future of E-sabong in the Philippines

The prohibition of e-sabong operations in the Philippines is a testament to the government’s unwavering dedication to protecting the values and well-being of society. Despite the considerable financial losses, moral and societal considerations were prioritized. This decision signifies a resolute stride toward placing public health, safety, and morality above any potential monetary benefits.



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 Duterte decided to ban e-sabong due to its negative societal impact, despite the significant tax revenue it generated.

Public opinion played a crucial role. A survey revealed that 62% of respondents favored the ban, reflecting a widespread distaste for the practice.

PAGCOR responded cautiously, voicing concerns about potential legal repercussions and the need for a clear legal basis to suspend operations.

Marcos’ Executive Order indefinitely suspends online streaming or broadcasting of live cockfights outside arenas or any premises where cockfights are held, effectively continuing the ban on e-sabong.