Operations vs illegal cockfights up by 3,100%

By Jennifer P. Rendon


For the love of sabong.

As if to confirm that cockfighting has been part of the Filipino culture, men braved getting caught just to take part in one of the country’s favorite pastime.

In Western Visayas, the game continues to thrive despite the government’s declaration that all cockfighting operations across the country are prohibited since March 17 owing to the threat of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Records from the Police Regional Office (PRO)-6 indicated a whopping 3,100 percent increase in police operations against illegal cockfights.

Lieutenant Colonel Joem Malong, PRO-6 spokesperson, said that police offices all over the region only conducted five operations against violation of Presidential Decree 449 (Cockfighting Law of 1974) from January to October 2019.

Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (NOcPPO) mounted three operations while Iloilo PPO and Antique PPO had one each.

At that time, legal cockfights were held in accredited cockpits. The arrests were made against “pauwak” or cockfights outside legal venues.

But for the same period in 2020, police conducted 155 operations.

Malong said most of these operations were mounted while the region was under community quarantine amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Bulang or pauwak is part of the Filipino culture. That’s why, you just can’t take it away from enthusiasts,” she said.

Malong said they even received reports that some persons hold cockfights in far-flung barangays to evade law enforcers.

“Sometimes, they have to travel early morning to be at the venue in hinterland villages,” she said.

NOcPPO posted the most number of operations at 86; Aklan PPO with 27; Antique PPO with 22; Bacolod City PO with 10; Guimaras PPO with 7; Iloilo PPO with 2; and Iloilo City PPO with a lone operation

In middle of October, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) allowed cockfighting in areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

But the IATF stresses that local government units (LGUs) will still have the discretion whether they would permit cockfighting operations in licensed cockpits.

Authorities also imposed some prohibitions such as live audiences, online or remote betting, or the live broadcast of cockfights.



Last week, the Iloilo PPO ordered police stations to strictly monitor the operation of cockpits and conduct of cockfighting.

Colonel Gilbert Gorero, Iloilo police chief, directed all chiefs of police to strictly implement Executive Order No. 284 issued by Gov. Arthur Defensor, Jr.

The order mandated strict monitoring of cockpits operations and cockfights under NITF Resolution No. 79 and DILG Memorandum Circular 2020-140.

In coordination with different local chief executives, the chiefs of police will implement the following measures:

* Conduct a regular inspection of the cockpit. The inspection shall happen right before the conduct of the cockfight;

* Assign personnel of PNP to conduct the inspection and monitor/witness the conduct of cockfight; and

* Submit a report on the conduct of cockfighting activities to the RIATF and the Province of Iloilo.

Gorero further stressed that commanders who are negligent in the execution and monitoring of cockfighting in their area of jurisdiction are to be dealt with accordingly.

In the Philippines, cockfighting, locally termed as sabong or bulang, is generally legal.

Legal cockfights are held in cockpits every week, whilst illegal ones, called tupada or tigbakay, are held in secluded or makeshift cockpits.

Under Section 5 (d) of PD 449 on Holding of Cockfights. The law states, “except as provided in this Decree, cockfighting shall be allowed only in licensed cockpits during Sundays and legal holidays and during local fiestas for not more than three days. It may also be held during provincial, city or municipal, agricultural, commercial or industrial fair, carnival or exposition for a similar period of three days upon resolution of the province, city or municipality where such fair, carnival or exposition is to be held, subject to the approval of the Chief of Constabulary or his authorized representative.

However, such will hold true if “no cockfighting on the occasion of such fair, carnival or exposition shall be allowed within the month of a local fiesta or for more than two occasions a year in the same city or municipality: Provided, further, that no cockfighting shall be held on December 30 (Rizal Day), June 12 (Philippine Independence Day) November 30 (National Heroes Day), Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Election or Referendum Day and during Registration Days for such election or referendum.”