Lower House solons laud senators for adamant position vs E-sabong

Published December 10, 2021, 5:15 PM

by Ben Rosario

The adamant stand of several senators against the grant of a legislative franchise to internet gambling via cockfighting won praises from lawmakers opposed to the franchise applications.

Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano2

Led by former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, congressmen lauded Senator Grace Poe, chairperson of the House Committee on Public Service, for suspending the panel deliberations for the legislative franchise application of Lucky 8 Star Quest Inc.

Poe made the decision after recounting during the hearing the fate of two husbands, one of them an overseas Filipino worker, who committed suicide as they incurred heavy losses in E-sabong gambling.

The OFW was the sole provider in the family. He had two children aged 2 and 3.

Poe referred the bill to the technical working group that will examine not just the operations but the social ills the game creates.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Panfilo Lacson have also issued statements underscoring their concern on the ill-effects of E-sabong to the youth and to the Filipino family.

The Lucky 8 Star Quest Inc. was sent to the Senate after the House of Representatives approved the franchise bill notwithstanding appeals from Cayetano to subject the measure to plenary deliberations.

“There truly is a need for comprehensive discussions on e-sabong so that we can take these social ills into consideration,” Cayetano said on Friday, Dec. 10.

“As this is a policy bill, I have been calling for thorough deliberations to extensively discuss not only the provisions of the proposed measure but the industry itself, especially considering the 25-year franchises for not just one – but several operators,” he explained.

The Catholic Church has registered its strong opposition to the measure.

Deputy Speaker and CIBAC Partylist Rep. Bro. Eddie Villanueva called on the followers of his religious group not to vote for politicians who supported the E-sabong franchises.

Both Cayetano and Villanueva noted that while E-sabong is expected to contribute to government coffers, the expected income pales in comparison to the negative social impact it will create.

“According to the World Health Organization, gambling-related burden is three times more harmful than drug use disorder,”said Cayetano.

“Gambling is known to be addictive and it can drive people to do things just to continue their vice. With e-sabong the problem is multiplied because it is easily accessible using one’s mobile phone. In fact a 19-year-old youth was arrested recently in Maco, Davao de Oro because he couldn’t pay his e-sabong debt of more than half a million pesos,” he said in his statement.

He also pointed to the account shared in Thursday’s Senate hearing of the nephew of former Candaba, Pampanga Mayor Jerry Pelayo who committed suicide after losing heavily in e-sabong.

“If we allow e-sabong to proliferate, pretty soon we will have broken families, communities in conflict, and a nation struggling to provide services to those who are addicted to it. The problems far outweigh any benefit e-sabong provides,” he added.

Cayetano said he was particularly concerned for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families who stand to lose all they had worked for and saved if they or their families get hooked into e-sabong.

“Our modern day heroes need to be shielded from this because they can easily lose it all in a matter of minutes,” he said.

He also thanked religious organizations such as the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), and the Philippines for Jesus Movement (PJM) for taking a stand against e-sabong.

“I am grateful that our brothers and sisters in these groups have also highlighted the negative effects of this issue on our families. Let us remain united in a faith-based and values-oriented mindset in serving our kababayan,” Cayetano said.