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Despite protest, ‘sabong’ is here to stay
« on: February 10, 2008, 09:45:54 PM »
By Manolo Iñigo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 04:55:00 02/05/2008

MANILA, Philippines -- I find it futile to totally ban cockfighting in the Philippines because there is no popular opposition to the game yet among Filipinos, unlike in the United States where the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a force to reckon with.

Not only that. Cockfighting is tolerated here because the cash-strapped government earns billions of pesos from the operation of more than 1,400 cockpits all over the country.

In fact, even top government officials, including some Cabinet members and congressmen, are among the frequent habitués of big-time derbies.

Many people are wondering, too, why the Makati Coliseum and the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo City are serving as venues for cockfights. Aren’t these supposed to be public edifices/buildings where cockfighting is not allowed?

* * *

Recently, animal rights activists belonging to the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) protested the holding of the just-ended World Slasher Invitational 8-Cock Derby at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

PETA’s Francis Anthony Regamit said the protest was part of their crusade to ban cockfighting in the country. He stressed that cockfighting “only sends wrong signals to the youth,” adding that “cockfighting teaches kids not only to engage in gambling, but it also teaches them to be violent and cruel to animals.”

Another PETA crusader, Jennilyn Tagasa, belied the claim that cockfighting is part of the Filipino culture.

“Cruelty (to animals) is not an excuse for tradition. They force the animals to fight against each other,” she said.

* * *

In the US, only the state of Louisiana allows cockfighting. Cockfighting is banned in all other US states following the passage of a bill filed by Sen. Wayne Allard in the 106th Congress way back in 1999, amending the US Animal Welfare Act of 1976.

“It’s unfair and it’s not even funny,” said American cocker-breeders from the affected states. “It’s killing the honorable sport of cockfighting.”

Even Big Dome owner Jorge “Nene” Araneta, husband to former Miss Universe Stella Marquez of Colombia, said he does not bet much and that some of his cockfighting cronies do not bet at all. “They just love the thrill of breeding victorious gamecocks,” he said.

Hotelier Biboy Enriquez of Firebird fame also considers cockfighting a sport.

* * *

On the other hand, anti-gambling advocates said cockfighting destroys the lives of people and undermines the moral fiber of the nation.

“People need jobs, not gambling,” former Manila Mayor Mel Lopez once said.

Is cockfighting a sport or a gambling activity?

“Sabong” or cockfighting is both a sport (entertainment) and gambling activity. If memory serves, the Bureau of Internal Revenue levies an admission tax of 30 percent on the cost of a ticket because it is considered an entertainment. At the same time it imposes an 18-percent tax on all incomes from the operation of the cockpit as a gambling activity.

* * *

Vintage retired colonel Julian Malonso, a former Philippine Olympic Committee president, wrote to say that before the war, the dean of sportswriters was Pedro “Pete” Villanueva.

He was among the first Filipino graduates of physical education from the United States, in Chicago.

He was the sports editor of DMHM Debate-Mabuhay Herald and Monday Mail, owned by the Madrigal family and later acquired by the Sorianos.

During the Japanese occupation, Villanueva became the sports editor of the Manila Times, formerly the Tribune, owned by the TVT Tribune, Vanguardia and Taliba chain of publications.

Tony Siddayao of the Manila Times was widely regarded as the dean of sportswriters of the post-war era.


Consider pleasures as they depart, Not as they come.

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