Bong Go: Decision to stop 'e-sabong' came after 'thorough' cost-benefit study

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go on Wednesday said he supported President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to stop online cockfighting or e-sabong operations in the Philippines, saying the decision was reached after a thorough cost-benefit study.

According to Go, the President carefully weighed the cost over benefit of online cockfighting operations together with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and that was the consensus they have reached.

Go said he believes Duterte's move is in the best interests of the Filipino people.

Go said he acknowledges that e-sabong operations can be harmful to Filipino families due to the social issues that comes with it such as gambling and its recent impact on peace and order.

“Mas alam po ni Pangulong Duterte (na) ang kanyang desisyon ay desisyon po (para) sa kabutihan po ng nakararami, (The President believes hsis decision is the best for the majority),” the lawmaker said.

“Kasi marami pong mga nalululong at lalung lalo na po 'yung mga pinaghirapan nilang pera. So gusto nga ng Pangulo na dalahin niyo na lang po sa inyong mga pamilya 'yung pera na inyong kinikita, huwag niyo hong aksayahin sa sugal (Many have been addicted to it, and moreso for those who earned their money. So the President wants you to bring your hard-earned money to your families and not waste it on gambling),” he added.

Go also said the viral story of a mother from Pasig City who pawned her eight-month-old daughter for P45,000 to pay her debt in e-sabong might habe influenced Duterte’s decision, as he himself expressed dismay over the incident.

“Mabigat 'yung social issue ukol diyan. Kaya binabalanse po ng Pangulo ang epekto nito. Ibig kong sabihin 'yung cause at magiging epekto po nito sa ating mga kababayan (It is a very serious social issue. That is why the President is trying his best to balance its effect. Particularly its cause and effect to our citizens)," he added.

During his regular public address on May 2, Duterte announced a halt to online cockfighting operations as he highlighted that the monthly revenue generated by e-sabong activities is not worth the social harm produced by the gambling activity.

Duterte also said he has instructed the DILG to look into e-sabong operations, citing reports of people pawning their belongings simply to play the popular gambling game.

Incidentally, many senators including Go, have also expressed dismay against e-sabong operations and called on the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to freeze the e-sabong licenses it had awarded until the cases involving the disappearance of more than 30 online cockfighting enthusiasts are resolved.

In the meantime, Go said his fellow lawmakers should look into ways on how to regulate similar gambling activities to ensure that its negative social impacts are addressed.