Cockfighting in Cagayan de Oro goes online; police raids a failure

CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 04 July) — Cockfighting in arenas and “tare-tare” in neighborhoods may have ceased nationwide due to strict law enforcement and COVID-19 lockdowns but “sabungeros” (cockfight enthusiasts) here have pushed this gambling pastime to the next level.

Police officials here said the “sabungeros” have taken the centuries-old pastime to the world of social media and law enforcers are finding it difficult to catch them.

“Online cockfighting involves only four or five persons. There is no crowd of bettors. How can you catch them?” Major Ivan Vinas, spokesperson of the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office, said.

Vinas said in online cockfighting, present are two persons who will release the gamecocks, the “koyme or sentensyador” and two persons who will record the live action of the blood sport with their smart phones.

He said bettors view the live-action on social media via Facebook, Google Meet and other online apps.

“We are still investigating how they do this because this is new to us. It is much unlike the tare-tare or tigbakay where there is a big crowd,” Vinas said.

Vinas said police teams have tried to catch the gamblers but the raids were all a failure.

Because mass gathering is not allowed under community quarantines due to COVID-19, cockfighting enthusiasts in Cagayan de Oro City have found a way to bet through e-sabong or online cockfighting, involving only a maximum of five persons, one of them taking the video of the fight. MindaNews file photo by ROEL CATOTO

He said online gamblers are staging the cockfights in empty warehouses, building rooftops and even in their own backyards, making it difficult for the police to detect.

Vinas said they have conducted raids in Barangays Nazareth, Macasandig and Pagatpay where the online cockfighting is suspected to be staged.

“In reality they can hold it anywhere. The cockfighting is very private,” he said.

Police in Mindanao cracked down on cockfighting especially after a major derby “Araw ng Davao Celebration 6-Cock Derby” held in the New Davao Matina Galleria in Davao City became a COVID-19 spreader within the city and other parts of MIndanao.

According to “Ben,” a local aficionado here, in online cockfighting,  game fowl owners agree to a fight by phone, text and Viber, an online app.

“Usually these game fowl owners know each other. They match their fighting cocks by showing pictures and videos via Viber,” he told MindaNews on condition that he would not be named.

Since the owners know each other, only a few people would know about the forthcoming fight that would happen online.

Ben said the owners would stage the cockfight in their backyards or empty buildings away from the prying eyes of the public

He said game fowl owners would bring one to three cocks to a fight and bets could run as high as 100,000 pesos.

“Only two game fowl owners are involved. We the bettors watch it on our smart phones or big TVs in their homes,” Ben said.

As the cockfight happens, Ben said two persons would record the live action with their smart phones and relay it to the owners via Facebook, Viber and other suitable apps.

Ben said after the game, everyone leaves the house or  building. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)