Issues uncovered in Senate hearings reinforce need to ban e-sabong

Former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday said the multiple issues uncovered in the recently concluded hearings conducted by the Senate on the missing sabungeros have reinforced the need to permanently ban the online betting game.

“Imagine, how many sessions would it take for us to institutionalize all of the Committee’s recommendations to solve the whole problem? Paano kung habang ginagawa pa lang ang mga batas, may mga nawala na naman?” Cayetano said.

The Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs chaired by Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa held its fourth and final hearing on 34 missing individuals who were allegedly involved in online sabong activities.

The Committee concluded that a law regulating the e-sabong industry must be crafted, which should include the following:

  • limiting its operations to Sundays and legal holidays;
  • clear delineation of powers and functions of government agencies involved in e-sabong; and
  • strict implementation of imposition of taxes on e-sabong operators and agents.

The Committee also recommended the creation of a law establishing a reward system for persons who witness and have actual knowledge of a crime to aid law enforcement personnel in conducting investigations.

It also wants to mandate all local government units (LGUs) to include the installation of security cameras in commercial establishments, especially in all off-betting stations and gambling arenas, as a requirement for the issuance of a business permit.

Lengthy process
Cayetano said while the Senate can forward to the concerned government agencies its recommendations on existing regulations, those that pertain specifically to e-sabong will still have to undergo a lengthy process.

“Y’’ung mga specific sa e-sabong kagaya ng kung kailan lang dapat pwede i-hold, ano ang role ng bawat agency, at paano dapat ang pag-tax, panibagong series of discussions pa ‘yun,” he said.

Online forms of gambling, Cayetano said, make betting games available to everyone 24/7. Hence, to prevent teenagers from participating, Congress would need to pass another law requiring virtual wallet companies to implement a stricter “know-your-customers” policy from registration stage to usage of account.

Cayetano said this is the reason he is firm in his stand that e-sabong and all other forms of internet gambling must be banned altogether.

“This should not take root in our country. All I can see in e-sabong is danger, danger, danger,” he said.

Cayetano also reiterated that there are multiple ways through which the government can generate funds and revenue, including the imposition of a five-percent mandatory saving in all government agencies in the next five years which would raise P250 billion to fund direct assistance to Filipino families.

He also said the government can spur economic growth in the country by helping small businesses recover and thrive.

“Kung revenue ang kailangan, wouldn’t it be much better kung kikita ang gobyerno sa pag-encourage sa mga aktibidad na talagang produktibo at hindi nakakasira ng pamilya?” he said.

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