Security guards tell Senate they have no idea about missing cockfighting enthusiasts

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 04 2022 08:21 PM

MANILA - Seven security guards that worked at arenas where 31 cockfighting enthusiasts went missing told the Senate on Friday that they had no idea about the incidents. 

Mark Zabala, Virgilio Bayog, Robert Matillano, Raffy Fuentes, Rogelio Junior, and Ronquillo Anding attended the hearing held by the Senate Committee of Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, chaired by Senator Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa. 

Acording to Anding, he only found out about the disappearances on social media. 

“Nalaman ko lang sa social media po, mga ilang araw po may dumating na CIDG po, nagtatanong sa mga naka-assign sa gate. Nung nalaman ko po yun, medyo nalungkot po ako sa pangyayari," he said.

(I found out about the [disappearances] on social media. After a few days, the CIDG came and questioned guards assigned at the gate. When I found out [about the disappearances], I was saddened by what happened.)

Bayog meanwhile said he did not remember anything about disappearing cockfighting enthusiasts when he was stationed at the Manila Arena, where one of the incidents occurred.

“Sorry po your honor hindi ko po alam. Nag-assume lang ako sa kasamahan ko pang araw. Hindi ko alam yun, your honor," Bayog said. 

(Sorry your honor, I don't know. I assumed the role of a colleague in the day shift. I know nothing about it, your honor.)

Joseph Maldo, an operations manager at one of the cockfighting arenas where the disappearances occurred, also said he did not know anything about the incidents. 

“Wala po kaming report ng mga anomalyang nangyayari sa site," he said. 

(We have no reports about any anomalous incidents at the site.) 

In the middle of the hearing, Dela Rosa said an informant told him that Virgilio Bayog was involved in beating up one of the cockfighting enthusiasts that went missing. According to the senator, his informant was also beaten up by Bayog back in 2020. 

"Nanonod sila ngayon ng TV sinasabi ngayon na ikaw daw yung bumugbog sa kanila, pasalamat ka kasi hindi sila mapresent ngayon kasi we need court order dahil they are facing criminal charges in court," Dela Rosa said. 

(They are watching TV now and saying that you beat them up. You should be thankful that we couldn't present them now. We need a court order because they are facing criminal charges.) 

Dela Rosa warned that if any of the resource persons invited to the hearing were found to have been lying, they could also end up facing charges. 

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) said they also had witnesses, but decided not to present them at Friday's hearing.

“Will make him available, as the director, we will present this in proper forum. Will just present them to the prosecutors' office," PMGen. Eliseo Cruz told Dela Rosa. 

The National Bureau of Investigation also told the Senate panel that it is conducting its own investigation into the disappearances. 

‘We are also conducting a fact-finding investigation. We have encouraging leads also," said NBI Special Action Unit Chief Atty. Emeterio Dongallo. "Andito naman partner natin, we will be coordinating with CIDG."

After the hearing ended, Dela Rosa said he was not convinced by the testimonies of the security guards. According to him, all invited resource persons were being considered suspects in the case, including gaming consultant Atong Ang.

Ang is the owner of 3 cockfighting arenas where the disappearances happened. 

The Senate has already called on President Rodrigo Duterte to suspend the licenses of online cockfighting firms amid the investigation. 

But earlier this week, the Palace said Duterte had yet to do so, as a copy of the senate resolution calling for the suspension still had to be sent to PAGCOR and then to the Office of the President. 

- With a report by Johnson Manabat, ABS-CBN News.