Former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano questioned the revenue scheme being implemented for online cockfighting, saying the government should be earning more than e-sabong operators and not the other way around.
“Hindi nagbabago ang aking stand. We should prohibit all forms of internet gambling… Ayokong mag-ugat ito sa ating bansa,” Cayetano said in a media interview.
“Pero kung pipilitin talaga na kailangan ang pondo, baligtarin natin. Gandahan natin y’ung terms para hindi naman pagtawanan ang gobyerno,” he added.
Cayetano noted that based on the Senate hearing on e-sabong on March 4, 2022, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) stands to earn only P7.6 billion a year while e-sabong operators can earn around P36 billion.
Cayetano said under the current setup, the operator only pays the government P12,500 per cockfight and keeps the rest of the earnings.
“That means y’ung porsyento lahat nasa licensee. So ginamit mo ang gobyerno, ginamit mo y’ung PAGCOR, kumuha ka ng license, etc., pero ang balato lang ang binigay mo sa gobyerno. Ang kita nasa operator,” he said.
Cayetano said this is in stark contrast to the way the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) operates lotto, in which it gives the operator, Berjaya Philippines, Inc., a fixed amount of P5.8 billion for a lease period of five years for its technical know-how and software to operate the lottery.
The licensees and agents who accept the bets, however, deal not with Berjaya but directly with PCSO, which earns 20 percent from ticket sales. An additional 20 percent tax on ticket sales goes to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
“If the government says it needs funds, this is the model. Before the pandemic, lotto earned P18 billion a year. In five years, (it should earn) P90 billion, but it pays Berjaya only P5.8 billion,” Cayetano said.
“So may I humbly submit that we prohibit it (e-sabong), but kung talagang (kailangan ng) pondo, we [the government] do the contract,” he said.
Cayetano said the contracts for online gambling are not ordinary contracts that cannot be amended.
“Hindi ito ordinary kontrata na hindi pwedeng baguhin. Franchise ito. It’s a privilege, so any time pwedeng baguhin ‘yan,” he said.
“Kung ayaw niya [operator], napakaraming iba na kukuha nyan,” he added.
At the same time, Cayetano warned PAGCOR officials that they risk being sued for “entering into a contract grossly disadvantageous to the government” if they continue with the current setup.
“I tell you this with all humility, dadating ang araw na pwede kayong kasuhan… dahil nga lopsided [ang contract],” he said.
Cayetano said he believes President Rodrigo Duterte is listening to all sides of the issue and that PAGCOR is also taking everything into consideration.
Apologizing for being “too passionate about certain issues including this,” Cayetano said all he can see in e-sabong is “danger, danger, danger.”
“Kung walang sisigaw ngayon e baka maging too late in the future,” he said.