Mayor asks city council to revisit decision on Candelaria cockfight

A scene during the Candelaria cockfight in 2011. (Photo Courtesy of Alloy Palmares Armentia via Facebook)

By John Noel E. Herrera

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas asked the Iloilo City Council to hold a special session today, Jan 31, 2023, to tackle some important matters, including the issuance of a resolution of no objections (RONO) to Iloilo Sportsmen, Inc. (ISI), the organizer of the annual cockfighting event for the fiesta of Nuestra Señora dela Candelaria (Our Lady of Candles) in Jaro district.

“Nagpatawag ko sang special session para bwas (today, Jan 31, 2023) para ma-aprubahan na to ang iya sang bulangan kay ti kadamo man sang naga-alabot di nga mabulang man,” Treñas said in a press conference on Monday, Jan 30, 2023.

ISI must secure the RONO from the City Council before Treñas could grant them a permit to operate.

Treñas said that the cockfight (bulang) is already part of the Jaro fiesta tradition and it is considered as one of the biggest derbies in the country.

“Waay ko gabulang ha, but part na ina sang tradition ta nga naga-alabot halin sa lain-lain nga lugar, from Manila, abroad, makadto di para sa Candelaria (derby) as it is the biggest cockfight tournament diri sa Pilipinas, kag puno mga hotel. Ang akon, part sang tradition ta, ti alalayan ta lang. Para sa akon tradition man na, culture naton, kag ti gina-ubra dun na kada tuig, so maybe we should allow,” he said.

In a special session conducted last week, the city council denied the RONO requested by ISI for the “Candelaria” 7-Cock International Derby on Jan 31 to Feb 2, 2023.

The city council said cockfighting is in no way representative nor has the essence of why the public celebrates the Jaro fiesta, as it is a religious celebration that shows people’s faith and devotion to Nuestra Senora dela Candelaria.

But Councilor Romel Duron, chairman of the Committee on Games and Amusement, who presented ISI’s request, said the event could bring more opportunities, knowing that many visitors would participate in the derby.

“Ang akon ya gina-consider ang mga bisita nga ari na diri. Ti what will happen kay bal-an mo directly or indirectly may mga benefit man kita tani. Ang transportation, damo masakay sa taxis, ang hotel ta puno tungod sang bisita ta as damo na naga-participate sa Candelaria nga bulang,” he said.

One of the reasons cited for the disapproval of the RONO is Presidential Decree 449 or the Cockfighting Law of 1974, which states that cockfighting should not be allowed during the voter’s registration period, which will end today, Jan 31, 2023.

Section 5d of PD 449 stated that “no cockfighting shall be held on December 30 (Rizal Day), June 12 (Philippine Independence Day), November 30, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Election or Referendum Day and during Registration Days for such election or referendum.”

But Treñas said the proposed dates for the derby are not in conflict with the law, based on what Commission on Elections (Comelec)-6 regional director Atty. Dennis Ausan explained to him.

“Naistorya ko man si director Ausan sang Comelec, sang-una ang registration days nga specific, subong ang tawag is ongoing registration, sige-sige na, so it means waay na sang bulang kung sige-sige ang registration, pero ang siling ya pwede na,” Treñas said.

“Indi na Presidential Decree gina-sunod ta sa registration, kundi election law na, Republic Act na subong,” he added.

Meanwhile, there were also reports circulating that cockfighting events have started yesterday, despite the denial of the RONO.

Treñas said that he will look into the information and let the city legal office tackle the matter.

“Waay ko idea, pero ipatan-aw ta to kay abi ko masugod sila (Jan) 31. Ipa-check ko kay waay ko kabalo,” Treñas said.

A letter sent by ISI to Treñas also originally proposed to hold the derby from Jan 30 to Feb 2, 2023, but Trenas’ endorsement letter to the city council only recommended it for three days, from Jan 31 to Feb 2.