Duterte defends e-sabong anew; 'Government needs money'

President Duterte justified his decision not to suspend the operations of online sabong in the country as it is generating billions of income for the government and not because he has connections in the industry.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with key government officials at the Arcadia Active Lifestyle Center in Matina, Davao City on March 29, 2022. (PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO)

In his "Talk to the People" public address aired Tuesday night, March 29, Duterte reiterated that electronic sabong or e-sabog is legal in the country.

"Ako, baka nagdududa kayo bakit hindi ko hininto. Hindi ko ho hininto kasi kailangan ng pera sa e-sabong ng gobyerno (You might suspect me of something because I did not suspend it. I did not stop it because the government needs the money from e-sabong," Duterte said.

"I’ll make it public now, it’s 640 million a month. And in a year’s time, it’s billion plus. Saan tayo maghanap ng pera ng ganoon na kadali na siguro? (Where can we easily find that money?)," he added.

Lawmakers earlier urged the President to suspend e-sabong operations following the disappearance of 34 individuals involved in the gambling activity since late December.

However, he defended those operating the e-sabong and told cockfighters to "straighten up their act and do it the legal way." He also blamed the disappearance of the sabungeros on "evil men."

Duterte likewise maintained that he does not know anyone in the e-sabong industry, contrary to what others have been saying on his decision to retain its operations.

According to Duterte, Malacañang should also no longer be reminded about e-sabong operations since it would be the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) that would go after the unpaid taxes.

Duterte has been saying that he is still against gambling in general but insisted that the government is only after the money.

Instead of suspending its operations, the President previously suggested stricter regulations like cutting the 24-hour operation of e-sabong licensees but later on decided against it when he realized the amount of money the government would lose.