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PB awaits IATF decision on reopening of cockfighting 
By: Vanessa Almeda, John Fredson Granada | Published Tuesday, October 13, 2020
The Provincial Board decided to wait for the IATF’s decision on allowing the operation of cockpits and cockfighting activities in MGCQ areas before deciding on the resolution filed by Board Member John Ismael Borgonia. (Donald Moga)

After a short deliberation on the pros and cons of allowing the re-opening of cockpits and cockfighting activities in the Province of Cebu, members of the Provincial Board (PB) decided to wait for the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Covid-19 on the matter.

Third District PB Member John Ismael Borgonia filed a resolution citing the need to reopen the game for livelihood, culture and tradition, and income of its allied industries, as well as the barangay and local government units.

He said allowing it to re-open is also subject to strict guidelines in following health and safety protocols including 50 percent capacity and the wearing of face shields and face masks. 

But 7th District PB Member Christopher “Dong” Baricuatro disagreed, saying wearing of face masks is unlikely when onlookers and breeders shout during the game “pula o sa puti (red or white)” during the fight.

Cockfighting, commonly called “sabong” and in Bisaya “tigbakay,” has become a way of life in the Philippines, a regular sight on Sundays in the countryside. 

When the country was placed on lockdown at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, this was one of the banned activities because it gathers large crowds. 

Several men were arrested and jailed for holding “tigbakay” during the enhanced community quarantine, including local public officials.

PB Member Raul Bacaltos moved to defer action on the resolution until the IATF decides whether to allow cockfighting and the opening of cockpits under the Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ).

Under the MGCG regulations, operation of cockpits and cockfighting is not allowed. 

“Kung i-allow na sa IATF, diha na ta mag decision because ang IATF ang mo-decide ani under MGCQ nga gitugutan ba gyud,” Bacaltos said.

Borgonia argued that the local government unit can regulate the opening of cockpits. 

“You know we have learned to live with Covid, we have learned to adopt the health protocols, we have learned to boost our immune system. In fact, there is a dynamic change of policy so basin pa ang IATF itugot na ang cockfighting,” Borgonia reasoned.

For his part, 6th District Board Member Glenn Anthony Soco questioned the timeliness of the resolution considering there are other pressing concerns that need to be considered.

Soco said while the proposed resolution cites the loss of income of the breeders and agrivet business, the tourism sector, as reported, lost P128 billion in estimated revenues for Cebu alone. 

He also added that going to cemeteries on All Souls and All Saints Day is disallowed which is more important for the people.

In the end, the PB agreed to defer the resolution as there are still risks of more gamers not following the health and safety protocols against Covid-19. (Vanessa L. Almeda with John Fredson Granada)