But how do the Philippines defend themselves against statements that this tradition is supposed to be cruelty to animals and how does cockfighting according to the “old tradition” actually work? In the Philippines, a cockfight is sometimes as interesting and popular as a high-class football game in this country. Two cocks are let loose on each other in an arena or on a battlefield. The cock’s instinctive drive to aggression then leads to a bloody fight in which a cock usually loses its life. Animal rights activists have been criticizing this “tradition” for years – without success.
Cockfights are even broadcast online
What is absolutely unimaginable in this country due to strict animal welfare standards is a tradition in the Philippines. Here people let two cocks compete against each other for life and death. The spectacle is now even streamed online. The responsible gaming authority Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR) only gave the green light for these online streamed cockfights (E-Sabong) in October and has now officially regulated them. In addition, the Philippine authorities are planning to set up authorized battle arenas where fights will take place and broadcast online.
In this context, it has now also become known that the government wants to introduce a new betting tax on cockfights. The tax is said to be 5% of gross receipts and paid to the local tax authority, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). In Germany there has also been a betting tax of 5% since 2012.
Animal rights activists outraged
For many years animal rights activists all over the world have tried to take action against the controversial cockfighting in the Philippines. In the arena, the fighting cocks wear dagger-like attachments, which often cause serious injuries. A fight often ends with the death of at least one animal. And that solely for the purpose of entertaining the audience.
With the introduction of the new betting tax, animal rights activists are now suffering a setback, as these traditional events are not expected to be banned in the near future. On the contrary: Since the competitions are now regulated by the state, they are officially allowed. So far, the cockfights have been in a kind of legal gray area. The spokesman for the Police Regional Office (PRO), Lt. Col. Joem Malong, emphasized in a statement that the fighting is part of Filipino culture and that it is therefore difficult to follow illegal events.
Illegal cockfighting is still a big problem
With the start of the global pandemic, the authorities in the Philippines have now completely banned cockfighting. Since then, the local regulatory authorities have been using strict controls to prevent illegal cockfights from taking place and thereby increasing the risk of infection. According to the Daily Guardian, police operations against illegal events in this direction have increased by 3,100% since then. Cockfighting has only been allowed again in certain areas under strict conditions since mid-October 2020.
Whoever wants to hold cockfights has to adhere to the strict requirements of the authorities. Among other things, these stipulate that they may only take place at licensed venues. In addition, only Sundays and public holidays are allowed as event days.
Combat cock recently killed a police officer
Only a few weeks ago it became known that a police officer had been killed by a fighting cock in the Philippines. The tragic accident occurred in San Jose about 480 kilometers south of the capital Manila. There was also a police operation here because an illegal cockfight had been held. The victim was about to pick the animal up when the rooster hit him on the thigh with a metal blade attached to the spur. The police officer bled to death before he could be hospitalized. This event, which only happened at the end of October, impressively shows once again the dangers of this questionable tradition – also for people.
How does a cockfight work?
In a traditional cockfight, the two opponents are first placed in the arena. If the fight is organized professionally, each rooster has a supervisor and there is also a referee and an assistant. Since a rooster shows a natural territorial behavior, it now wants to defend its territory and begins to fight. In order to make the roosters aggressive before the fight, they are sometimes held tightly together beforehand or otherwise brought into an aggressive mood. Depending on the region, the fighting cocks are also armed with artificial spores. The fight is only over when one of the two animals is unable to fight, i.e. either seriously injured or dead.
According to recent surveys, more than two million workers in the Philippines are said to be dependent on cockfighting. For this reason, cockfighting is not only a centuries-old tradition, but is also of great economic importance. The price for a high-performance fighting cock is sometimes around $ 1,000.
Traditional cockfighting in the Philippines has always been controversial in the past and will likely remain so in the future. As early as the 19th century, the Filipino freedom fighter Jose Rizal tried unsuccessfully to ban cockfighting. At that time, however, the bloodthirstiness and the obvious cruelty to animals were less decisive for this attempt. Rizal was more concerned with the high betting sums that were already placed on the cockfight back then. With the introduction of a state betting tax of 5%, the Philippine government has now opened the way to allow regulated bets on cockfights in the future.