PHILIPPINE Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Andrea Domingo nixed the immediate suspension of e-sabong (online cockfighting) operations, noting that Pagcor might be held liable if it is done without legal basis.

"Although we do respect the resolution from 24 senators for us to immediately suspend e-sabong operations, we stand at the peril of having to pay P640 million while we suspend [the operations] without clear and legal basis. We have to look into the repercussions. In the final analysis, it would be Pagcor who would be responsible for the final decision," Domingo said during the hybrid Senate investigation on the rising number of missing persons allegedly involved in sabong and e-sabong related incidents Friday.

Domingo said revenues from e-sabong have totaled P640 million per month since January this year.

The Pagcor chief said she will seek guidance from Malacañang on whether or not to suspend the operations of e-sabong in the country.

However, Sen. Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa, chairman of the committee, said that in his conversation with President Rodrigo Duterte, the Chief Executive agreed to the request of the Senate to suspend the e-sabong.

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Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said he saw no legal basis on why Pagcor would need the permission of the Office of the President.

Drilon reminded Domingo that the authority of the gaming body to issue licenses to gambling operators includes the power to revoke and suspend licenses without needing the permission of the Office of the President.

"My proposition and my belief...since you issued the license without seeking a specific authority from Malacañang, that inherent power to grant the license is the power to suspend without needing the clearance from Malacañang. That is why I find legally no basis for the position of the chair of Pagcor that they need the license of Malacañang to suspend Pagcor when in fact they issued the license without Malacañang's authority," Drilon said.

But Domingo insisted that she still needs the clearance from the President, saying that she fears the legal consequence of such an act.

She said she will go to Malacañang to get the decision of the President.

For her part, Sen. Mary Grace Poe raised suspicion that Pagcor is delaying the suspension of e-sabong operations as urged by members of the Senate.

Poe said temporarily suspending the licenses of e-sabong operators is well within the mandate of Pagcor.

"There is nothing in Pagcor's charter requiring them to seek authorization from the President for any action to proceed," Poe said, citing Presidential Decree 1869, as amended by Republic Act 9487.

She also recalled that as former chairperson of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), they did not wait for presidential approval for sanctions on violations.

"Suspending the e-sabong licenses is pursuant to its mandate of minimizing, if not eradicating, the evils, malpractices and corruptions associated in gambling," Poe said.

"I believe Pagcor is using the President as an excuse to delay that decision," she added.

Meanwhile, Charlie "Atong" Ang, vice president of Lucky 8 Star Quest Inc., one of the gaming companies given a license to operate by Pagcor, complained before the Dela Rosa committee for dragging him and his company to the disappearances of the cockfighters.

Dela Rosa said that Ang was vital in the investigation as he owns the three cockfighting arenas where some of the missing sabungero were last seen.

Ang belied insinuations that they have anything to do with the disappearances of cockfighters, stressing that there is a conspiracy to link him to the issue.