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FIRING LINE: What’s Atong Ang got to do with it?

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By Robert B. Rqoue, Jr.

Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa wants Charlie “Atong” Ang to take the hot seat as the Senate continues its investigation into recent disappearances of a total of 31 “sabungeros” or cockfight enthusiasts.

Ang, who owns all three cockfight arenas where the missing sabungeros were last seen, already passed on the first invitation he got from the Senate, claiming “health issues” prevented him from appearing before the congressional probe.

In the first hearing, lawyer Angelo Santos, president of Ang’s Lucky 8 Star Quest Inc. which operates the e-sabong site WPC (World Pitmasters Cup), confirmed their firm had problems with “errant agents” who defrauded both Ang’s enterprise and online bettors by diverting them to a mirror website.

Earlier, a video posted on the Pitmasters’ Facebook account had Ang denouncing the people behind the scheme, referring to them as “double agents” and warning them to stop “bago kayo masaktan (before you get hurt).”

 He cursed at them and issued the same warning to cockfight aficionados “na nyo-nyope” – those who bring in sub-quality fighting cocks and cheat the system by cashing in from bets placed on the opponent at his arenas.

Of course, Santos told senators that Lucky 8 Star Quest – which holds a legal franchise – is not one to resort to “illegal activities” to deal with errant agents or people defrauding its system, much less make them disappear.

No one’s saying yet that Atong Ang, who has been branded a “gambling lord” – definitely, not the first time – by no less than President Duterte, is involved in these mysterious disappearances.

It’s apparent, though, that the guy – who has been in a high-profile jueteng turf war in the past and beat all criminal charges brought against him by the state while his co-accused (an ousted President of the republic) languished in detention – is not exactly an angel.

Being the most prominent e-sabong boss in the country whom gambling insiders say earns upwards of $1 million a day, Ang is not someone you cross and expect to get away from.

That’s basically where Sen. Bato is coming from when he insisted on having Ang before his panel as it probes “from top to bottom” to find a suspect.

His crime-busting days might well be behind him, but Dela Rosa still carries those cop instincts to the Senate Public Order and Dangerous Drugs Committee, which he chairs quite ably. And like in his finest hours as PNP Chief, he wants this covered by media for all to see.

Hopefully, we’ll see Mr. Ang at the next hearing. Then, prayerfully, we’ll see all those fathers, husbands, sons, and brothers who vanished in the dangerous world of gambling alive again.

*         *         *SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at http://www.thephilbiznews.com

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