DILG: At least 8 suspects involved in missing online sabungeros identified

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 16 2022 06:44 PM | Updated as of Mar 16 2022 09:29 PM

PNP spox: 6 suspects 'positively identified'

MANILA (UPDATE)— Authorities have identified at least 8 suspects in the disappearance of several online sabongeros, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said Wednesday. 

During President Rodrigo Duterte's taped address to the nation that aired earlier in the day, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, through a presentation, laid down "similarities" in the cases of the missing sabongeros.

  • The missing sabungeros' last location is "within premises" of cockpit areas. 
  • Most vehicles they used were supposedly abandoned nearby their areas of residence. 
  • All cockpit arenas being investigated are allegedly managed by the same operator. 
  • The cockpit arenas supposedly involved in the disappearances have non-functioning CCTV cameras. 
  • Most of the persons of interest are either security or management personnel in the cockpit arenas. 

"Sa oras na makuha natin ang sapat na ebidensya ay hihingin na natin ang tulong ng korte. At sa bisa ng mga warrant, agad nating hahanapin ang mga suspects na ito upang mabigyang linaw na ang mga insidente at mapatawan na ng hustisya ang mga responsable dito," Año said, citing the investigation of the PNP-CIDG. 

(When the times comes that we have enough evidence, we will ask the court's help, through warrants, so we can catch these suspects. We will find these suspects to shed light on these incidents, and apply justice.)

There are at least 31 missing online sabongeros, said Año.

The Philippine National Police is probing the cases and has created a special investigation task group, the DILG chief said.

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The official pointed out that they have brought the matter to the National Bureau of Investigation, local courts, and the Department of Justice to "expedite resolution of cases."

Despite the incidents, Duterte, during the same briefing, rejected calls to suspend e-sabong operations in the country citing the billions of pesos in revenue generated from the platform. 

He said the money is needed now amid the economic crisis brought by the pandemic and the rising fuel prices. 

"Ang ano ko lang habol ay figures nga na naibigay na sa akin. Kaya maintindihan ng Congress, marinig niyo kung ilan yung kinikita. Kaya ako ,dahan-dahan na hindi muna ako nag-react kaagad," said Duterte. 

(The only thing I am interested in is the figures. I hope the Congress understands. This is why I did not react immediately.)

E-gambling operations, he said, should instead be regulated, something that Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said falls generally under the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). 

PAGCOR Chairman Andrea Domingo said that through e-sabong, an income of nearly P3.7 billion was recorded from April to December 2021 alone.

From January to March 15 this year, PAGCOR so far collected almost P1.4 billion, she added. 


Police spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo, in an interview on ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo, said the PNP-CIDG could file charges on Thursday or Friday against some suspects involved in the disappearances of 6 sabongeros in the Manila Arena cockpit. 

This comes after a witness came forward, saying she personally saw what happened before the sabongeros disappeared. 

“Bukas, inaasahan natin, o hanggang Biyernes ay makakapagsampa ng kaso ang CIDG patungkol sa 6 na nawawala sa Manila Arena,” Fajardo said.

(Tomorrow, or on Friday, the CIDG can file charges regarding the case of 6 missing sabongeros at the Manila Arena.)

“May hawak sila ngayon na witness na diumano ay nakapagbigay na ng statement na personal niyang nakita kung paano kinuha at isinakay sa sasakyan itong 6 na nawawala,” she added. 

(They have a witness right now who already submitted a statement that she saw how the six missing persons were forced into vans.)

Fajardo said six suspects were “positively identified.” 

“Ibig sabihin, may mga pangalan po yan, at yung iba naman po ay hindi na-identify. Kaya yung kaso po natin ay may additional John Does na kasama sa kakasuhan,” she said. 

(They have names but some were not identified. That is why we have additional John Does who will be charged.)

No one among the suspects, however, are currently under the custody of the PNP, she said. 

The police official said they were not sure whether these missing sabongeros are still alive.

The special investigation task force also has “good leads” as regards the missing sabongeros in San Pablo, Laguna. 

Video from PTV