President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said the country’s intelligence funds had been depleted due to the Covid-19 pandemic as he justified anew his decision to retain e-sabong licenses.

“Iyong pandemic naubos ang contingency plan ko pati ‘yung intelligence fund,” he said during the groundbreaking ceremony of the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) Center in Las Piñas.

The president said he had ordered state forces to do their jobs with tighter budgets due to the depleted funds.

“Sabi ko you will just have to work on it. E kung kailangan kayo maggawa-gawa ng intelligence, maglakad ka kasi wala tayong pera. Iyon ang nangyari doon,” he said.

Duterte claimed e-sabong operations could generate the government P640 million a month.

“Saan ka maghanap ng P640 million? So I allowed it,” he said.

The Senate earlier recommended the suspension of e-sabong in the country after more than 30 individuals went missing allegedly due to cockfighting.

But Duterte had said closing down legal e-sabong operations would lead to the emergence of illicit operations. John Ezekiel J. Hirro