Legislative franchise for E-sabong: Why the rush in approval?

Published December 20, 2021, 6:27 PM

by Ben Rosario

Why is granting e-sabong legislative franchise being treated with urgency?

Taguig City Rep. Lani Cayetano

This question has been raised many times by congressmen opposed to the idea of legitimizing gambling in the internet but so far failed to get any answer from the House of Representatives.

On Monday, Dec. 20, Taguig 2nd District Rep. Lani Cayetano reiterated her opposition to the grant of legislative franchise to two firms that will bring cockfight betting right in the homes of Filipinos.

Earlier, her husband, former speaker and Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano and Deputy Speaker Bro. Eddie Villanueva decried the approval by the Lower House of a 25-year legislative franchise to the Lucky 8 Star Quest.

Another franchise application, this time from the Visayas Cockers Club, has been brought for plenary approval by the House Committee on Legislative Franchises.

“Huminahon tayo sa pag-aapruba ng ganitong klaseng mga batas dahil ang epekto ng e-sabong, hindi pa nga opisyal na nabibigay ang prangkisa nila, ay grabe na talaga. (We should carefully approve these kinds of legislative franchises because the effects of e-sabong, even though the franchises are not yet officially granted, are already severe.),” Rep. Lani said in a radio interview.

In September, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading a bill that would grant the e-sabong outlet Lucky 8 Star Quest, Inc. a 25-year legislative franchise.

Shortly after, the House Ways and Means panel approved a bill seeking to grant the Visayas Cockers Club Inc. a similar legislative franchise.

In the Senate, however, e-sabong met with resistance as Senator Grace Poe, chair of the Committee on Public Service, on December 9, 2021 suspended the hearing on granting a 25-year franchise to Lucky 8 Star Quest.

Poe said she was inclined to have the bill go through a technical working group (TWG) that will examine not just the operations but the social ills the game creates.

Rep. Lani said the House should move “more slowly” regarding the matter.

She said affected families have visited her office to report addiction and debt among their relatives.

While traditional sabong is part of Filipino culture, Rep. Lani said e-sabong is more accessible and addictive, with young people and overseas Filipino workers having easy access to its gambling platforms.

“Mahirap po kapag nasira ang pamilya. Kung nakikita namin na medyo magiging delikado sa pamilyang Pilipino, tungkulin namin na maging vocal tungkol dito at ipahayag namin ang aming oposisyon. (We don’t want to see families get broken. If we see that a legislative measure may negatively affect the Filipino family, it is our duty to become vocal about our stance.),” she said.