Senate hearing reveals: Bettors commit suicide due to heavy E-Sabong losses

Published December 9, 2021, 6:35 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Bettors have committed suicide after losing heavily in betting at the multi-billion-peso E-Sabong industry that mushroomed in the country since March.

One of them is a nephew of former Pampanga Mayor Jerry Pelayo. He had three children.

The husband of an overseas Filipino worker also died after losing heavily on e-sabong that can be accessed even in the living rooms of each Filipino family.

‘’Nagbigti (He hanged himself),’’ she added.

The couple, who went bankrupt, had two children. One of them is three years old and the other is two years old.

This was revealed in Wednesday’s (Dec. 9) public hearing by the Senate Public Services committee chaired by Senator Grace Poe on a House-approved bill seeking a 25-year franchise for Lucky 8 Corporation.

The corporation said that its daily bets received is between P2 to P3 billion and keeps for itself five percent of the total or about P150 million. It conducts 255 daily ‘’sultada’’ (games) or every two to three minutes, seven days a week.

Poe said the on-line sabong franchise is the first of its kind in public service franchise history.

At the end of today’s hearing, Poe said she is inclined to have the bill go through the ‘’technical working group (TWG)’’ process that will examine the revenue side of it and the social ills it creates._

During the public hearing, Pelayo said the family was devastated by the suicide of his nephew who was losing heavily. He had three children.

He said there are now more e-sabong outlets than sari-sari (variety) stores and that poor farmers are losing their lands because of the corruptive nature of electronic gambling.

The result is that Filipinos became lazy. It affects the country’s agricultural sector and tourism sectors.

Ople said E-Sabong has hit Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as she asked the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR)) to reconsider the authority it had given to E-Sabong operators.

`’’Please don’t encourage virtual gambling,’’ she said, adding that gambling causes broken homes.

Poe said Congress should have oversight functions over the E-Sabong operations.

Should a franchise be given by Congress, it should last for three to five years only as lawmakers see the cost of such operations to society.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” F. Zubiri says PAGCOR seems to be contradicting itself when one of its officials pointed out that Congress may be stepping out of its bounds by providing franchises to those that are not mentioned in the Constitution as public services.

Zubiri said PAGCOR keeps on giving out permits and franchises on its own without having to pass through Congress.

“I remember that when there were gambling permits that were issued early on, they passed through Congress. PAGCOR took the authority to give out permits and franchises to everybody…we don’t even know who they are, whether they are foreigners or Filipinos. It’s a sad fact,” Zubiri said.

PAGCOR lawyer Arnold Salboza said gambling is a business or activity that could be regulated by law but need not secure a legislative franchise.

In fact, he said, they submitted a position paper during constitutional debates to totally remove from Congress the power to issue legislative franchises, even for public utilities. The proposal had failed, Salboza said.