MANDAUE CITY, Philippines ? The Mandaue City Council has flatly turned down a request from Barangay (village) Paknaan requesting the repeal of a city ordinance that bans cockfighting anywhere in the city, returning to the old practice of allowing cockfights only during barangay fiestas.
Paknaan officials said cockfighting was a ?sports entertainment? that has traditionally been part of barangay celebrations.
?I am not convinced with this justification,? said Councilor Victor Biaño. ?Betting on cockfights can never be considered a sport as they would want us to believe.?
Vice Mayor Carlo Fortuna, author of the old city ordinance that once allowed barangays to hold cockfights during barangay fiestas, said that old law was abused to the point wherein cockfights would even be held during sitio (district) celebrations.
?I have always been consistent on my stand against illegal gambling. When I authored an ordinance on tigbakay (cockfighting) when I was still a councilor, it was an effort to balance customs and the Presidential Decree against tigbakay and gambling,? Fortuna said.
The old ordinance allowed cockfights during barangay fiestas, but explicitly banned the activity from sitio fiestas.
?Instead it became almost rampant in almost all the sitios. We unwittingly legalized gambling in almost all sitios every time a fiesta is celebrated even if it?s only a sitio,? Fortuna said.
To rectify the situation, the City Council passed an ordinance banning all cockfighting in the barangays.
Mayor Jonas Cortes vetoed the ordinance in October last year, but his veto was overturned by the opposition-led City Council.
According to Cortes' veto message, the ordinance contradicted Presidential Decree 449 or the Cockfighting Law of 1974, which allows the ?holding of cockfights during Sundays and legal holidays and during local fiestas for not more than three days.?
Cortes also added that the ordinance, authored by Biaño, was trying to break an accepted Filipino tradition.
The Cortes family owns the oldest cockfighting arena in Mandaue ? the Mandaue Coliseum.