Online ‘sabong’ bid gains ground in South Cotabato

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 10 Mar) – A group of cockpit owners in the country is seeking clearance from the provincial government of South Cotabato to allow the live streaming or broadcasting of the popular “sabong” or cockfighting so that gamblers can place bets without having to jostle their way inside noisy and crowded arenas.

Cock fighting. MindaNews file photo by BOBBY TIMONERA

Eric dela Rosa, president of the United Association of Cockpit Owners and Operators of the Philippines, Inc. (UACOOPI), asked the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to grant them a license to broadcast cockfighting, which he described as a “sport.”

He noted that livestreaming will “promote and cultivate the cockfighting tradition in our country.”

“E-sabong” or online cockfighting has become popular with online gaming taking roots in the communities, even enticing bets from cockfighting aficionados overseas.

“This business venture shall benefit the province through increased revenues by means of promotional tourism activities that will spur the continued growth and development of South Cotabato,” Dela Rosa said in a letter dated January 18.

South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. endorsed to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in a letter on March 2 the bid of UACOOPI to livestream cockfighting in the province.

The Games and Amusement Board has given UACOOPI the authority to broadcast or livestream cockfighting events held in remote areas in the Philippines.

But before they could operate in a province, the group needs the permission of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

If granted permission by the provincial board, Dela Rosa said they would broadcast cockfighting events in commercial establishments in the province.

South Cotabato consists of 10 municipalities and Koronadal City, the provincial capital and seat of government of Region 12.

Dela Rosa said they also applied for similar permits in at least 30 other provinces, cities and municipalities across the country.

The province of Batangas and the cities of Lipa and Manila approved the group’s application to broadcast cockfighting, he added.

Fr. Angel Buenavides, spokesperson and vicar general of the Diocese of Marbel, condemned the application for e-sabong in South Cotabato and urged the provincial board to reject the proponent’s bid.

“They’re not anymore contented with holding the cock fights in cockpits, now they wanted it online,” he lamented.

He noted the diocese opposes any form of gambling “as it erodes the moral values of the people.”

The diocese recently slammed the soft opening of a hotel casino in nearby General Santos City. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)