Resumption of ‘e-sabong’ bucked; ‘drives people to debt, death’

Published September 1, 2022, 3:51 PM

by Raymund Antonio

Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez has expressed his opposition to the resumption of e-sabong or online sabong, which former president Rodrigo Duterte had ordered Philippine Gaming and Amusement Corp. (PAGCOR) to stop.

(Photo via Pixabay)

The Mindanao lawmaker suggested that agency officials talk to former Pampanga Rep. Joseller “Yeng” Guiao and former mayor Jerry Pelayo of Candaba town in Pampanga, who have written letters to newspapers pleading for the government to put an end to e-sabong.

The two former local officials said that their constituents in Pampanga have turned to e-sabong because it offers them hope of getting out of poverty, similar to jueteng and other illegal numbers games.

Yet, they lamented that e-sabong is a lot worse than jueteng because it drives people to debt and death.

In one letter, Pelayo said he had a nephew who became so addicted to online cockfighting that he incurred a huge debt, sold his properties and took his own life when he could no longer pay.

Pelayo and Guiao said farmers and poor people sell whatever they have due to their newfound addiction to e-sabong.

“Pagcor should see the evils its online cockfighting project has brought about. It doesn’t need e-sabong. It generates enough revenues for its programs,” Rodriguez said.

He also put the spotlight on the disappearances of individuals linked to e-sabong, citing that the Philippine National Police (PNP) has yet to solve the crime.

The online sabong, or the placing of bets online for cockfighting, has reportedly led to the disappearance of some 26 individuals, whose whereabouts are still unknown today.

Last May, this prompted Duterte‘s order to stop all e-sabong operations nationwide.

During last Tuesday’s appropriations committe hearing on the PAGCOR budget, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Alejandro Tengco was not able to give a categorical answer whether or not e-sabong will resume under the current administration.

“I have had not the chance to discuss the matter with the members of the board nor have I also discussed the matter with our president, President Marcos. So, I can’t make a categorical answer as of today,” Tengco said.

“I can only say that in response to those questions that we are getting. I suppose you will have to make a decision very soon or at the soonest possible time. But, then again, we will have to consider all,” he added.