DILG makes 'final appeal' to Meta: Take down e-sabong pages on Facebook

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 01 2022 05:29 PM | Updated as of Jun 01 2022 09:38 PM

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Meta says they already shuttered e-sabong networks 

MANILA (UPDATE)— The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Wednesday made a "final appeal" to Meta to take down e-sabong pages on social media giant Facebook, saying it must comply with Philippine regulations.

The DILG has yet to receive a response to the letter it sent a week ago to Meta, Facebook's parent company, about the operations of e-sabong networks on the social platform, said Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya.

President Rodrigo Duterte in May ordered a pause on online sabong over its reported negative social impact, including gambling addiction and the disappearance of around 30 cockfighting enthusiasts. 

"Medyo nababahala kami dito dahil ang (we are concerned about this because) Facebook is a business entity operating in the Philippines and they are bound by the laws of the Philippines," Malaya said in a public briefing. 

"This e-sabong is an illegal activity. Kung hindi ito violation ng community standards ng Facebook, hindi ko alam kung ano ang violative of Facebook rules kasi illegal activity ito," he added.

(If this is not a violation of community standards on Facebook, then I do not know what else could be violative of Facebook rules because this is an illegal activity.)

"We are, therefore, making this final appeal to Meta to immediately and without further delay take down these pages," the official said in a separate statement.

The DILG shut down 7 online sabong sites late last month, but said "several Facebook pages and groups" were still operating. 

It has coordinated with other government agencies that have ties with Facebook so its request will be noticed, Malaya said. 

"Pag-aaralan namin kung ano ang mga susunod na hakbang (we will study our next steps). But let me just say that as a business entity operating in the Philippines, Facebook has to abide by Philippine laws," said the official. 


In a statement, Meta said they have already taken down the pages and groups being questioned by DILG. 

"We have removed these Pages and Groups for violating our Coordinating Harm and Promoting Crime policy," a Meta spokesperson said.

"We don't allow facilitating, organizing and promoting criminal or harmful activities targeted at animals on our platforms," it added.

Based on Facebook's policies, any similar activities are not permitted in the social media website.  

The DILG said it has earlier coordinated with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to remove the e-sabong feature of e-wallet applications where transactions are usually being channelled.

Malaya hoped that the public would cooperate on the closure of e-sabong websites and that it would be gone for good.

“Since ito pong e-sabong sa ngayon ay iligal na, posible pong hindi po kayo mabayaran because it’s unregulated," he said. 

(Since e-sabong operations are now illegal, it is possible that you would not be paid for your bets.)

"Kung tataya po kayo rito, kung makikipagsapalaran po kayong tumaya dito ay it’s perfectly possible na hindi kayo mabayaran because underground na po itong mga operasyon na ito."

(If you will bet on this, there is a possibility that you won't get back the money you gambled because these operations are already underground.)

— With reports from Pia Gutierrez and Jess Fenol, ABS-CBN News