Philippines Sees Arrests For E-Sabong Debt Paid With Baby Sale

Posted on: March 28, 2022, 05:50h. 

Last updated on: April 1, 2022, 01:14h.

A desperate mother in the Philippines recently sold her nine-month-old baby daughter to cover her gambling debt. Police have now made arrests in connection with the sale.

A typical scene as two roosters participate in a cockfight. A baby sold to cover her mother’s cockfighting gambling debt in the Philippines has been recovered. (Image: Filipino Mirror)

A mother who sold her baby to settle an e-sabong debt highlighted the pitfalls of sabong. But police have now found the baby and arrested two individuals involved in the transaction.

Soon after, the 22-year-old mother sold her child for PHP45,000 (US$863) to pay off her gambling debt, and she repented. She went on a local TV program, remorsefully pleading her case and asking for help from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to recover the child she abandoned.

That made international headline news. But there is now somewhat of a happy ending to the story. The Filipino Times reports that police were able to track the sale, make a couple of arrests, and recover the infant.

Sabong, or cockfighting, is a common activity that takes place legally and illegally. But an increase in crime linked to the fights is causing concern.

Social Media Aids Rescue

Three Filipino women and one Nigerian man participated in the sale. The three women were identified as Imelda Maligiran, Kristine Joyce Esdrelon, and Rose­marie Gutierrez. The media outlet identified the Nigerian as Ifeanyi Okoro.

It only took the NBI just over a week to find the culprits. They arrested Okoro and Maligiran, allegedly a romantic couple, in Calamba City in Laguna on March 22, while the other two are still on the run. They all face charges of kidnapping, child abuse, exploitation, and human trafficking.

The NBI was able to track down the couple with the help of several unidentified agencies and Facebook. A tip then led investigators to the exact location where the two criminals lived.

The Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development received the baby after she was rescued. However, it will ultimately return her to her father. Her mother may not be able to see her for some time, as police arrested her as well over the incident.

Sabong Not Going the Way of the Dodo Bird

Despite selling babies to cover debts and police officers allegedly kidnapping e-sabong agents, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte believes there’s too much money to be made. He has made it clear that the activity is a strong source of revenue for the country at a time it needs all the help it can get.

Even police officers turning to robbery won’t be enough to sway his opinion. Slightly over a week ago, police arrested one of their own in Oriental Mindoro. At the time, he was trying to rob a hardware store to finance his e-sabong addiction.

Police Corporal Leonell Maranan allegedly broke into the store but, for all his training, didn’t excel as a burglar. Police officers patrolling the area heard noises coming from inside. Then, upon closer inspection, saw that someone had forced the door open.

Instead of going in with guns blazing, they waited. It took Maranan 30 minutes to exit his attempted heist – about 25 minutes longer than he should have taken – before he emerged into the waiting arms of his fellow officers.