A House leader has sought to convince Filipinos that online cockfighting or e-sabong "is not the work of the devil", despite its connection to gambling.
"We should not demonize the regulation of e-sabong; instead, let's give our fellow Filipinos in the cockfighting industry the chance to get back on their feet," House Committee on Games and Amusements Vice Chairman Ako Bisaya Party-List Rep. Sonny Lagon said in a statement.
A current hot topic in the public space is whether or not e-sabong should be granted a legislative franchise by solons. This is evident with the social media reactions that the topic has garnered in relation to the May 2022 presidential candidates' comments on the controversial issue.
For Lagon, e-sabong is benefial to since it "helps a lot of people".
"I remain in favor of online cockfighting for the simple reason that it helps a lot of people. When properly regulated, it is not the work of the devil; rather it is a usual source of livelihood for poor Filipinos," Lagon, whose party-list is allied with Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD).
According to him, giving e-sabong franchisees the license to operate would be welcomed by several sectors that benefit from the industry either directly or indirectly.
The solon mentioned commercial breeders, which number 60,000; backyard breeders, 30,000; and poultry supply stores, which are estimated at 14,000 nationwide. He also said that the feeds industry and veterinary products sector would both receive a windfall as a result of an active gamefowl industry.
And then there are the "responsible" online cockfighting operators themselves, like the Pitmasters Foundation under the the United Association of Cockpit Owners and Operators of the Philippines.
Lagon said Pitmasters Foundation has been actively giving ambulances and medical assistance like free dialysis, wheelchairs, etc. to marginalized people. Last month, the group distributed 100,000 food packs and hygiene kits to families in Visayas, Mindanao, and Palawan that were affected by typhoon 'Odette'.
"In the end, these are individuals who know their civic responsibility and have genuine care for their countrymen," he noted.
"The truth is, the majority of the 300-strong House of Representatives favor giving a franchise to e-sabong because we know that it will help a lot of our countrymen during these trying times. A lot of people connected to these industries have soldiered on despite receiving next to no amelioration. It's time for us to lend a hand," he further said.