By John Noel E. Herrera
The traditional cockfighting will push through during the fiesta of Nuestra Señora dela Candelaria (Our Lady of Candles) in Jaro district after the Iloilo City Council granted the request of the Iloilo Sportsment Inc. (ISI) for a resolution of no objection (RONO).
In a special session on Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023, only four City Councilors voted against the issuance of RONO to ISI – Rudolph Ganzon, Alan Zaldivar, Plaridel Nava, and Frances Parcon-Torres.
Voting in favor of the RONO were Councilors Romel Duron, Candice Magdalane Tupas, Irene Ong, Sedfrey Cabaluna, Ely Estante, Johnny Young, Miguel Trenas, Leila Luntao, Rex Marcus Sarabia, and Urmanico Baronda.
ISI must secure the RONO from the City Council before Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas could grant them a permit to operate.
Some councilors who voted yes cited that the new proposed dates of ISI for the derby are no longer in conflict with the Presidential Decree 449 or the Cockfighting Law of 1974, which states that cockfighting is not allowed during the voters’ registration period that already ended on Jan 31, 2023.
A new letter sent by ISI to Mayor Treñas proposed to hold the “Candelaria” 7-Cock International Derby from Feb 1 to 3, 2023, which the mayor also endorsed to the city council.
“It just became clear nga kung February 1 to 3, then it is no longer violative legally of any (rules) sa paghiwat sang cockfighting kay ti isa sa legal impediment didto is dapat wala sang bulang nga gakatabo kung election (registration), and this time it is the Barangay elections, so kung lantawon naton wala sang legal impediment,” Cabaluna said.
Sarabia also denied that the City Council flip-flopped as their decision was only dependent on the legal basis and technicalities of rules anchored on the said issue.
“Basically, no. Sang last nga session is I think the date is January 31 to February 2 and the main contention didto is that may conflict siya sa PD 449, so kung i-grant ang RONO Feb 1 to 3, so wala sang legal impediment and I don’t think nga may flip-flop kay consistent sagihapon ang stand sang council because it was a legal issue,” Sarabia explained.
Duron also said that the initial proposed dates for the derby are not in conflict with the law (PD 449), based on a letter sent to him by Commission on Elections (Comelec)-6 regional director Atty. Dennis Ausan, which stated that the legal basis for voters’ registration is already the Republic Act 8189.
“Section 261 (y) of the Omnibus Election Code (election offenses on registration of voters) and Section 45 of RA 8189 (election offenses for violation of said law) made no mention of any prohibition of the conduct of cockfighting activities within the period of voter registration,” part of the letter stated.
But, some councilors who opposed the issuance of RONO reiterated that cockfighting is in no way representing nor has the essence of why the public celebrates the Jaro fiesta, which is considered a religious activity.
Treñas earlier requested the City Council to hold another special session to reconsider an earlier decision rejecting the holding of the traditional cockfighting for this year’s Jaro fiesta.
The City Council also learned of allegations that Candelaria cockfighting had already started last Jan 30, despite the initial denial of the RONO.
This also led the City Council to propose a resolution for a legislative inquiry “in aid of legislation on the alleged conduct of cockfighting derbies by the ISI on Jan 30 to 31, 2023, despite the initial absence of RONO from the council.”
Cabaluna also said that the ISI should answer all the allegations made against them prior to the issuance of RONO.
“As to what allegedly happened yesterday and today (Jan 30 and 31), dapat manabat sila kung matuod nga naghiwat sila sang cockfighting activities without the RONO. So we also support the direction of the council to investigate. Their actions prior to the issuance of RONO, they should be made answerable for that,” he said.
The Iloilo City Legal Office also wrote a letter to the management of Jaro Coliseum asking for an explanation on the alleged illegal cockfights.