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A national sport

During the Japanese occupation, life in Manila became too difficult. A sackful of Japanese Mickey Mouse money could hardly buy a ganta of rice. My family decided to move to Abra, and for good reason.

My two older brothers joined the guerilla movement in Northern Luzon.

As a teenager, I always wanted to gain new experiences. At that time, the only entertainment we had was cockfighting, every Sunday. I always watched it with friends.

Many things about cockfighting amazed me. How the experts put razor blades in one leg of the cock for it to slash its opponent. How the “kristos” shouted for bets. I said to myself, they must have photographic memories!

What struck me, however, was the honesty of the bettors. Nobody reneged. If we had that kind of honesty in government, we would have no graft and corruption.

Unknown to most Filipinos, cockfighting is a national and cultural sport. It traces its origins to pre-colonial days. It is so popular in the provinces such that in most towns, there is a cockpit where aficionados go every week.

Magellan took note of locals duelling their roosters and betting on them. History tells us that Magellan’s co-explorer, Antonio Pigafetta, was able to introduce the sport to Mexico through the Galleon trade. Later, it spread to Central and South America, to Spain, and even the United States.

In fact, there is now an annual Slashers Club in Manila. Lovers of the sport show off their roosters and bet on them by the millions. It is almost always held at the Araneta Coliseum.

Manila Cockers Club is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Manila Jockey Club. During the past two years, the sport has been revolutionized. There is now a world-class cockpit arena at the San Lazaro Leisure and Business Park in Carmona, Cavite. Innovations have also been introduced to the sport.

The license issued to MCC is pursuant to Presidential Decree 449, otherwise known as the Cockfighting Law of 1974, as amended by Republic Act 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1992. This vested on local government units the exclusive authority to grant licenses to establish and operate cockpits, conduct cockfighting and regulate the same.

In the advent of RA 8792, or the e-commerce Act, transactions outside the territorial jurisdiction of any LGU are deemed transacted in the LGU where the electronic data is received.

In this case, MCC operates its own network of terminals located in its off-cockpit stations to process bets.

Hence, bets are transacted, accepted and confirmed in Carmona, Cavite where the totalizer system of MCC is located. This process is analogous to the operations of Amazon and e-Bay.

Despite the legality of the operations of the MCC, the Games and Amusement Board recently attacked its operations by filing complaints with the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police.

MCC, I am told, is surprised with such actions because the GAB has previously authorized the use of OCS in processing bets for cockfighting, provided the LGUs where the OCS are located consent to the same through the issuance of business permits.

Accordingly, in its letter dated Oct. 12, 2016, the GAB directed the MCC to submit the business permits to the OCS in compliance.

However, recent actions of the GAB in attacking the MCC were merely based on the individual actions of GAB chairman Abraham Mitra and Commissioner Eduard Trinidad reportedly without board authority.

It is likewise reported that the attempt of the two to regulate cockfighting is supposedly based on their residual powers from the cockfighting law of 1974. I heard that the MCC is wondering, however, why they have not gone out of their way to also file complaints on others engaged in cockfighting operations without permits from the local government unit.

The Manila Cockers Club pays the proper taxes. Last year, it paid P58.6 million in percentage taxes to the Bureau of Internal Revenue and P6.2 million as local business tax to the municipality of Carmona.

So why attack the MCC? What is Mitra’s agenda?

The Duterte administration should look into the benefits cockfighting can give to government in the form of revenues.

* * *

If you have not noticed it yet, both cases against Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno—the impeachment case at the House and the quo warranto petition filed by the solicitor general—question her fitness and qualifications and cut across party lines.

Justice Marvic Leonen was the sole dissenter to the decision that Sereno must answer, in 10 days, her disqualification case. Leonen is known as an Aquino partisan.

In the Senate, Liberal Party senators, Minority Floor Leader Franklin Drilon and Senator Risa Hontiveros are making some noises that the quo warranto petition is an attempt to pre-empt the impeachment proceedings against Sereno.

It’s actually no surprise that the Liberal Party will make the two separate cases against Sereno a political issue. But I don’t think it is.

The real issue here is whether the chief justice violated the laws on filing Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.

Sereno reportedly did not file her SALN when she was a professor at the UP College of Law. It was also found that she was not fit for the post, and that her appointment was null and void. Thus, she must be ousted.

* * *

There is a House bill filed by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Majority Floor Leader Reynaldo Umali to abolish the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel.

I think the bill was recklessly done. It brings to fore potential conflict of interest. The Office of the Solicitor General will supposedly take over the functions of the OGCC, but they are on opposite sides.

Even some lawmakers are against the bill.

Another proposal that has no basis is the abolition of the Presidential Commission on Good Government. The PCGG has done well in going after the Marcos wealth. So why fix it?

Topics: Cockfighting
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