BSP orders the removal of e-sabong from e-wallet apps

When the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) ordered its bank-supervised financial institutions (BSFIs) not to deal with accounts linked to illicit gambling, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) praised the BSP for its role in putting an end to e-sabong operations in the country.

DILG Sec. Eduardo Año said the BSP Memorandum Circular 2022-026, which was issued on May 27, 2022, mandated the BSFIs to only deal with gambling or online gaming enterprises that are authorized by the government.

The BSP also instructed BSFIs to notify their clients who still have funds in their e-sabong accounts to transfer them to their e-wallets within 30 days of the memorandum’s issuance, after which all links to e-sabong accounts and e-wallets, including e-sabong merchant operator accounts, will be disabled.

“This means that even if operators or bettors go underground, they cannot bet through Gcash and Paymaya anymore,”   Año explained.

“Sa tulong ng ating mga kapwa ahensiya ng pamahalaan, mawawakasan din natin ang mapinsalang e-sabong na nakasira na sa maraming pamilya sa ating bansa (With the help of our fellow agencies in government, the operation of the e-sabong which has adverse effects in the families in the country will end),’’ he added.

In a press conference on May 2, President Duterte put a halt to all e-sabong operations, citing the DILG’s recommendation based on a nationwide poll that revealed the vast majority of people oppose the practice.

The President noted e-“devastating sabong’s societal impact,” which included gambling addiction and the disappearance of many cockfighting fans.

Año also demanded that Facebook (FB) ban various FB pages or accounts that promote unlawful e-sabotage, including those operated by its social media affiliates or subsidiaries.

“Malaking bagay ang ginawang direktiba ng BSP na ipatanggal ang e-sabong sa listahan ng mga maaaring bayaran sa e-wallets tulad ng G-Cash at PayMaya,” says the official. Salamat, BSP, sa mabilis na aksyon at pagtugon sa utos ng Pangulo (The BSP’s directive eliminating e-sabong from the list of items that can be paid using an e-wallet such as G-Cash or PayMaya has had a huge impact.) Thank you, BSP, for acting quickly in responding to the President’s instruction),” Año said.

Facebook will follow Facebook’s lead in eliminating e-sabotage activities in the country by removing its accounts or pages, according to the DILG chief.

On social media, e-sabong

DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya acknowledged that he had contacted Facebook to urge that it block various pages, groups, and accounts that encourage people to engage in unlawful e-sabong across all of its social media affiliates and subsidiaries.

Malaya requested that all Facebook pages, links, and the like that run or promote people to undertake illicit e-sabong be automatically banned from the Facebook network and its affiliates and subsidiaries in a letter to Meta, Facebook’s parent organization.

Malaya sent a list of seven Facebook sites, groups, and accounts to Meta Platforms, Inc. that the PNP anti-cybercrime unit identified as catering to illicit e-sabong.

“We hope that Facebook will immediately suspend or block pages devoted to illegal sabong as fast as they suspend pages that allegedly violate their community standards. I presume that engaging in illegal activities is a violation of FB’s standards,”  Malaya explained.

“We look forward to a fruitful cooperation, coordination, and collaboration on this matter in order to fully implement the ban on illegal e-sabong,” the DILG spokesperson added.  (Chito A. Chavez)

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