By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

PNA file photo

MANILA – The Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 arrested 283 individuals in the past six days as the regional police have stepped up the campaign against the illegal operations of e-sabong in line with Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr.’s marching order to intensify drive versus online cockfighting.

In a statement on Sunday, Brig. Gen. Roderick Augustus Alba, PRO 7 chief, said they also intensified the intelligence gathering and information sharing with the local communities to run after the bettors and e-sabong operators.

Based on PNP reports, the illegal online sabong also caters to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Alba said almost PHP156,000 bets were also seized during the six-day operation from Dec. 5 to 10.

The Cebu City police made the most arrests with 106, followed by the Cebu Police Provincial Office with 42 and the regional Criminal Investigation and Detection Group with 40.

“We have already filed 109 cases in connection with our aggressive drive against online sabong. The operation of online sabong is already illegal because of a presidential order early this year. I am warning those who are continuously defying this order to stop, otherwise, we will relentlessly run after you,” Alba said.

Former President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the termination of online sabong operation due to public pressure over the case of 34 missing sabungeros, as well as the reports that a number of bettors, including policemen, were deep in debts and even forced to engage in illegal activities to sustain their online sabong addiction.

Meanwhile, members of the PNP-Anti Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG) raided an illegal online lending agency (OLA) in Manila that led to the arrest of 83 collection agents accused of harassing clients for not paying their debts.

The PNP-ACG said the agents were caught sending threatening messages to customers while some were unlawfully accessing the clients’ personal information which is posted online with libelous remarks inside a building in Brgy. 497 Sampaloc, Manila on Dec. 9.

The operation stemmed from the warrant to search, seize and examine computer data issued by the court, ordering the PNP-ACG to search and seize pieces of digital evidence that were allegedly used by the loan shark company.

The PNP-ACG said customers who fell in the OLA experienced public humiliation and harassment coupled with threats and illegal access to their phones’ contact list when customers cannot pay on time.

Maj. Ely Compuesto, ACG Team leader, said the operation was done in collaboration with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Manila Police District and Anti-Cybercrime Group.

Brig. Gen Joel Doria, director of the PNP-ACG, said while the Yuletide season is just around the corner, people should avoid such OLA. (PNA)