THE gambler in many of us Filipinos really prevails. Despite all odds that were supposed to hinder the vice cum habit gambling still existed during the 2-year height of the deadly CoViD 19 pandemic. Cockfighting for example, was strictly prohibited because the number of people gathered every time it is held, is usually large. Yet illegal cockfighting still remained prevalent in the years 2020, 2021, and 2022.
Whenever there were fiesta celebrations discos were non-existent as well as other crowd-drawing activities. But it surprised many to see people bringing fighting cocks trooping to some unusually secluded places in the barangays. It turned out that these people are actually cockfight aficionados satisfying their thirst for the kind of gambling that has been existent in the Philippines since the time of our forefathers.
And where the gambling organizers find it difficult to hold cockfights due to the religious implementation of the ban by some well-meaning law enforcers, the enterprising gambling lords find other means to have the vice perpetuated. They use the electronic technology to pursue their passion for gambling both as a vice and business. Assisted by technology genius individuals the gambling entrepreneurs invented the e-sabong where the actual cockfights are initiated by only a few people in some highly secluded venues. However, the arenas are made accessible through the social media and betting is also conducted with the operation of some applications lodged in the all too useful computers and cellular phones.
The scheme actually allowed the continuation of cockfights even without the presence of gamblers in the gambling venue. And this strategy actually even brings bigger revenues to the gambling operators and further impoverishing the lowly cockfight aficionados. Worst the e-sabong even made a number of criminals from some once law-abiding citizens just so they can have money to gamble in the e-sabong. A good number of lives were also lost including those who were allegedly kidnapped because of their tiff with the electronic gambling activity operators. The missing e-sabong patrons are part of those destroyed lives, and hopes that they are still alive and to surface soon are already dimming.
Now it is worth remembering that the pandemic started in Davao City after an aficionado of “A-sabong” (Actual Cockfight) who came from Manila just to attend a cockfight derby held at the Matina Cockfight Arena who was also carrying the dreaded CoViD virus started it all in Davao City. During that early time of the pandemic that person was not restrained from entering the arena. What was the consequence? Well, what else but the start of Davao City’s perdition brought about by the deadly virus. The rest is now history.
But even as the CoViD 19 pandemic has not been declared as over and only the diminishing number of infected is made the basis in government’s decision to ease the various restrictions in people movement as well as other preventive health protocols, the arena of the cockfight where the pandemic in Davao was tagged to have started is now opened for the holding of cockfights.
By allowing the opening of the arena definitely it also means the return of the regularly scheduled gambling activity. Now, will there be regulators from the health department to keep eyes on cockfight patrons to ensure that they comply with what is left of the protocols like wearing of face mask in highly crowded venues? Or, will government just allow the gallera operators do self-regulation like the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas?
Will this move by the local government of Davao City to allow the Matina Gallera, and perhaps all other cockfighting venues, be able to stop the patronage of many Davaoenos on the electronic cockfights? After all, despite the order of then president Rodrigo Duterte to have the Pagcor-sanctioned e-sabong stopped, there are still a few that are reported to have clandestinely continued operating.
And will the return of the huge crowd to the arena every so often not trigger a new surge of the deadly CoViD 19? We can only hope that it will not become a super-spreader. The people have already suffered long enough; the economy has been brought to its knees and is only starting to resuscitate lately. We cannot afford to go back to the dungeon of misery that we suffered since 2020.
The last time we were in Davao del Norte we were kept waiting for hours just to be able to cross the Tuganay bridge which was made one way due to repair works which somehow we haven’t seen any progress since two years ago.
Last Sunday we used the same highway in going to Mati, Davao Oriental to visit a relative. The condition of the bridge has remained and somehow even deteriorated further. It’s one lane is still closed and the number of vehicles from both approaches competing with each other to be ahead in getting through the remaining passable one lane is getting larger and larger.
As we said we have seen the repair work started years back. And having seen the same condition as it was when we passed by the span almost a year ago and our latest last Sunday, we are just wondering what is causing the delay of the repair and what agency or government unit is responsible for the execution of the rehabilitation project.
How we wish to hear an answer from a former media colleague who is now spokesman of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Region XI.
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