Former anti-corruption body chief asks gov’t to regulate ‘e-sabong’

CEBU CITY—The former chief of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission is calling on the government to regulate online cockfighting or e-sabong.

Greco Belgica, who is running for Senator, said there is a need to control e-sabong to address the ill-effects it is causing on the community.

“Sabong should be regulated. That’s the closest that we can get to stopping it,” said Belgica, who was in Cebu on Tuesday.

Belgica said he is for the regulation of e-sabong as totally stopping it will create more problems.

“Because if we totally stop it, you will just build an underworld industry. It will become a syndicate because that is gambling, that is a vice. Even if you prohibit that, the people will continue to patronize it and it will become illegal and a bigger industry,” said Belgica.

The Senate has launched an investigation after several cockfighting aficionados disappeared.

Some sectors want e-sabong totally stopped, citing that people who have become addicted to it are now hounded by financial problems.

One of the issues raised against e-sabong was its accessibility even to minors.

“If you contain it, it’s out in the open, you can regulate and control it so minors can no longer access it,” Belgica said.

Belgica agreed with some observations that e-sabong is worse than illegal drugs.

“At least, we know that illegal drugs are harmful. For e-sabong, it looks like it is not harmful. The problem with gambling, it is associated with prostitution, illegal drugs, violence. Isn’t it that in movies, godfathers can be seen in gambling places?,” said Belgica.

Belgica said one way of regulating e-sabong is to make it membership-based.

“If you want to gamble, you have to apply for a membership. If you are a member, you will be issued with an ID and this ID will be sent to your parents. That way, the parents will know that their children are in the “sabong” industry,” Belgica said.

Belgica said he is aware of the income that e-sabong generates for the country but there is a need to regulate it.

Moreover, e-sabong is bad for the economy, Belgica said.

“E-sabong is bad for the economy because it gives people false hopes of getting rich and wealthy. There’s no such thing as a get rich quick scheme. Anything that tells you you can get rich quick is a scam. What makes us wealthy is hard work, smartness and wits,” Belgica said.