MANILA — Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Monday said he was offering a reward of P6 million to anyone who could provide information on the whereabouts of 6 suspects in the disappearance of several sabungeros.
Remulla made the offer in a Facebook post, after meeting with families of the missing victims at the Department of Justice (DOJ) headquarters in Manila.
He said the reward was part of the DOJ's efforts to further track down the suspects.
"Sa kasalukuyan ay ipinagpapatuloy natin ang malawakang paghahanap sa 6 pang sangkot sa pagkawala ng mga sabungero kung kaya’t iniaalok natin ang P6-M halaga ng pabuya para sa makakapagturo at makakapagsabi kung saan nagtatago ang mga suspek," Remulla's social media post read.
(At present, we continue the widened search for the 6 suspects involved in the missing sabungeros case, that is why we are offering a reward of P6 million to anyone who can disclose and pinpoint where the suspects are hiding.)
"Makakaasa ang bawat naulilang pamilya na ginagawa natin ang lahat upang mabigyan ng hustisya ang pagkawala ng kanilang mga mahal sa buhay maging ang pagsugpo sa mga ganitong klaseng krimen," he added.
(The families can rest assured that we are doing everything we can to bring justice to the disappearance of their loved ones, as well as to curb crimes like this.)
Asked who or what the source of the reward is, Remulla said that the funds come from an "anonymous source."
Remulla, together with officials from the Philippine National Police (PNP), met with the families of the missing sabungeros to update them on the developments on their case.
Crime Investigation and Detection Group Chief BGen. Romeo Caramat Jr. said authorities would focus on arresting those involved. He said he believed only one group was behind all disappearances.
Three policemen who "arrested" sabong agent Ricardo Lasco earlier pleaded not guilty to charges of robbery and kidnapping before a court in San Pablo City, Laguna, the legal counsel of Lasco's family said.
The officers allegedly abducted Lasco while pretending to be agents from the National Bureau of Investigation on Nov. 30, 2021.
There are at least 34 people still missing in other suspected kidnappings linked to cockfighting around metro Manila. State prosecutors are investigating some of the other cases, but have yet to file charges.
A Senate investigation found the players were suspected of sabotaging their roosters so they would lose, while secretly betting on their opponents.
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
FROM THE ARCHIVES: