Cayetano challenges presidentiables: Speak up vs e-sabong, online gambling

Former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday urged presidential aspirants to speak up against e-sabong and other forms of online gambling, saying the people should know as early as now where they stand on the issue.

“Don’t make us guess. Don’t surprise us after the election. Ngayon palang, magsalita na kayo. Kung kayo ang magiging Presidente, tatanggapin niyo po ba ang e-sabong o ipasasara ninyo?” Cayetano said at a press conference on December 2, 2021.

(Speak up now. If you were elected President, will you accept e-sabong or will you shut it down?)

At the same time, he commended presidential aspirant Senator Panfilo Lacson for taking a stand against e-sabong. In late November, Lacson in a statement said e-sabong and other forms of online gambling are social ills that are “tearing families apart and worsening social ills in the country.”

The House Committee on Ways and Means had earlier approved House Bill No. 10204 which aims to grant Visayas Cockers Club, Inc. a 25-year franchise to operate off-site betting stations anywhere in the country.

If the bill gets passed on third and final reading, Visayas Cockers Club Inc. will be the second licensed e-sabong operator in the country to be granted a 25-year franchise, following Lucky 8 Star Quest, Inc. whose franchise was approved last September.

Cayetano, who had earlier called online gambling a “new pandemic,” urged the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and state-run schools to oppose e-sabong and online gambling.

He said the measures passed by Congress will endanger previous efforts to restore the teaching of good manners and rights conduct in schools and among young people.

Pinasa nga natin y’ung Good Manners and Right Conduct (bill) pero ang bata, pagkahinatid, makikita niya na y’ung driver na naghahatid sa kanya, nage-e-sabong. Makikita niya sa eskwelahan, y’ung gwardya, nage-e-sabong. Kung minalas-malas niya, y’ung teacher niya, nage-e-sabong. Pagdating niya sa bahay, kuya niya o tatay niya, ganun din ang ginagawa,” he said.

(We passed the Good Manners and Right Conduct bill but then when children are brought to school, they might see the driver engaging in e-sabong. When they are in school, they might see the guard engaging in e-sabong. If they are unlucky, their teachers are also engaged in e-sabong. At home, their brother or father might be engaged in the same practice.)

The former Speaker said e-sabong and other forms of online gambling are far more addictive and accessible for young people than physical forms of gambling.

Citing data from the World Health Organization, he said commercial gambling has triggered worse risks than diabetes and drug addiction, ruining families and communities in the process. 

Iba kasi kapag nasa internet o nasa cellphone. Y’ung mga physical na mga gaming o gambling institutions — casino, bingo, lotto, sabungan — may mga regulations ‘yan na pwede mong puntahan. That’s your choice as an adult. Kapag nasa online, it’s very addictive,” he said.

(It’s different when you’re on the internet or using your cellphone. Physical gaming or gambling institutions such as casinos, bingo, lotto, cockfighting — these are subject to regulations. That’s your choice as an adult. But when it’s online, it’s very addictive.)

Cayetano thanked various religious and faith-based groups, including the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), for actively opposing attempts to grant e-sabong franchises.

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