Ban on ‘sabong’ lifted after almost 3 years; amusement tax increased 3x

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 10 Jan) – The local government has lifted the ban on cockfighting that was blamed for the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Mindanao last 2020, but also increased amusement tax on cockpit operators from 10 to 30 percent.

The six-cock derby that caused the spread of COVID-19 in Davao City and other parts of Mindanao during the March 2020 Araw ng Davao celebrations. MindaaNews file photo by GREGORIO BUENO

First District Councilor Bernard Al-ag said during an interview over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) on Tuesday that increasing the taxes was one of the conditions to allow the galleras to resume operations after almost three years.

He said the local government has estimated to generate between P25 million and P30 million in annual revenues from P10 million under the old tax regime imposed on the cockpit operators.

Al-ag said the local council approved on third and final reading the ordinance increasing taxes on cockpit operators in the first week of December, which Mayor Sebastian Duterte subsequently signed on December 23.

He said operators prodded the incumbent local chief executive to lift the ban.

Former mayor and now Vice President Sara Duterte banned cockfighting in the city in April 2020 when several individuals got infected with COVID-19 after attending the six-cock derby for the “Araw ng Davao” celebration at the New Davao Matina Gallera in March, making it the “Ground Zero” for the outbreak in Mindanao.

Aside from tax collections, Al-ag added that the local economy is expected to benefit from the resumption of “sabong” as hundreds of derby-goers from different parts of the country would come to this city to participate in national derbies.

He said derby is an “economic stimulant” that would help the city restart the economy and boost tourism.

“The effect is not just [on tax collections] because derby-goers would come to Davao by the hundreds, and they need to check in at hotels, eat at restaurants, and shop,” Al-ag said.

The city has eight galleras.

He added that they need to secure business permits from the city government before they can resume operations.

The councilor said the higher taxes have yet to take effect after publication.

He said that a new system will be put in place to make sure that right taxes are collected from the operators and avoid them from under declaring the payment of taxes to the city.

Al-ag said gallera operators have been directed to ensure that derbies will not worsen traffic congestion. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)