MANILA — The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) on Monday said several of its officers allegedly involved in the disappearance of cockfighting enthusiasts or "sabungeros" were "cooperating" with investigators.
In a press conference, NCRPO Deputy Regional Director for Operations PBGen. Jack Wanky said the suspects were restricted and confined in “an area” inside Camp Bagong Diwa.
“Actually andito pa naman sila ngayon, nandito pa sila sa atin they are under our watch. Naka-custody pa naman sila while their case is ongoing," Wanky told a press conference.
(They are here, they are with us. They are in custody while their case is ongoing.)
"At we saw their cooperation. Cooperative naman sila kaya, from time to time binibisita rin naman natin sila, nandiyan lang sila naka-confine. And they are willing to, well, testify kung ano mga allegation against sa kanila,” he added.
(We saw their cooperation. They are cooperative, we visit them from time to time while they are in confinement. And they are willing to testify with regards to the allegations against them.)
The NCRPO last year relieved from their posts 11 officers due to charges filed against them by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) over the disappearance of 4 sabungeros in Cavite.
Wanky said police would also cooperate with the NBI.
“Nakita nga natin yung kanilang cooperation nila. Otherwise kung di sila cooperative, maaaring yung iba diyan eh nawala na o tumakas na sa kanila.” he noted.
(We saw their cooperation. Otherwise, if they hadn't been cooperative, they would've escaped already.)
Dozens of sabungeros have reportedly disappeared since 2021.
A Senate investigation found the players were suspected of sabotaging their roosters so they would lose, while secretly betting on their opponents.
State prosecutors are investigating some of the other cases, but have yet to file charges.
In December, 3 former police officers and 6 others were charged with kidnapping in connection to the missing sabungeros.
Filipinos from all walks of life wager millions of dollars on matches every week between roosters who fight to the death with razor-sharp metal spurs tied to their legs.
The sport, banned in many other countries, survived coronavirus pandemic restrictions by going online, drawing many more bettors who use their mobile phones to place wagers.
The abductions shone a spotlight on the seedy underbelly of the online cockfighting industry, in which fights were held in empty arenas and livestreamed to millions of bettors.
Taxes from the fights helped to replenish government coffers depleted by the pandemic, but then-president Rodrigo Duterte banned the livestreaming shortly before he left office on June 30, while allowing traditional cockfighting to resume.
— With a report from Agence France-Presse