By: Atty. Ruphil F. Bañoc August 09,2019 - 08:11 AM

Almost 400 undoubtedly fighting cock lovers were held like chickens in a poultry after the police raided and padlocked a cockpit arena in Mandaue City for illegally operating the facility on weekdays. 

The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Central Visayas (CIDG-7), armed with an order from Camp Crame, raided the D and C Coliseum in Barangay Ibabao, Mandaue City, leaving the bettors confined inside the facility on Monday, August 5, 2019. The arrested people were transported to the regional office of CIDG in Camp Sotero Cabahug in Cebu City on the midnight of the same day.  Because said arrested individuals cannot be accommodated in the prison cells, they slept on the ground of the camp.

Considering that the following day, August 6, is a special non working holiday in the entire Cebu as the province celebrated its 450th founding anniversary, CIDG failed to file the appropriate charges against them. As a result they slept for the second night at the police camp.

On Wednesday, August 7, CIDG-7 finally filed the cases against the sabungeros as work in government offices finally resumed. They were transported on board the 3 Ceres buses like students going on an educational tour, but this time to the Cebu Prosecutor’s office for the inquest proceedings. 

Because of their number, the Fiscal’s office failed to finish the process on Wednesday and Thursday. Consequently, they still failed to post bail and left with no other option than to experience sleeping for the third and fourth time at the police camp.  

The said sabungeros and the management of the cockfighting arena violated PD 499 otherwise known as the Cockfighting Law of 1974. Such law provides that cockfighting shall be allowed only in license cockpits during Sundays and legal holidays and during local fiestas for not more than three days. 

It also said that cockfighting maybe held during provincial, city or municipal, agricultural, commercial or industrial fair, carnival or exposition for a similar period of three days. 

The offense is bailable but because of the foregoing circumstances they experienced sleeping under the custody of the police for four nights. Their wives and members of their families have different reactions. Many of them said, “good riddance.”

Some of the bettors voiced out that they thought all the while that the operation of the cockpit was legal even during weekdays. They were not aware of any law on the matter and just relied on the management that announced the continuance of its operation. They did not expect of the raid because they were aware that the owner of the cockpit arena is the family of Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes. 

Atty. Jamaal Calipayan, Mandaue City Administrator, confirmed that Cortes’ family owns the cockpit but tried to explain that the mayor is not anymore involved, only his siblings. He also explained that the city has an ordinance that would allow the operation even during weekdays. 

On the questions of the bettors, the only thing that they should remember is that they could not invoke ignorance on the matter as the principle of the law says, “Ignorance of the law excuses no one.” Also, their being aware that Cortes family owns the cockpit should make them realize that no one is above the law. 

As to the existing ordinance of Mandaue City allowing the operation of the cockpit even during weekdays, I would like to call  the attention of Mayor Cortes and the city council to revisit the local law and introduce amendments thereto as it runs counter to a national law. Note that an ordinance is inferior to a national law. 

I hope Mayor Cortes, being the local chief executive of the city, will see to it that the cockpit arena operated by his family should be made as model in strictly following the law. He should also think about the issue of conflict-of-interest. Being the father of the city, he should think what is good for his constituents.  

Meanwhile, the cockfighting arena in Barangay Tejero in Cebu City has voluntarily closed following the raid in Mandaue City. Good if other cockpits will just do the same without the need to be raided. 

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