Religious leaders urged to unite, shield youth from ‘destructive’ online gambling

Former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano urged religious leaders to unite and shield the Filipino youth from online gambling such as e-sabong, which he described as “destructive” to the moral fiber of society.

“Maraming kabataan natin ay hindi naiintindihan kung bakit nakakasira ng moral fiber ng ating lipunan ang e-sabong at online gambling,” Cayetano said as he addressed an audience of religious and community leaders in Taguig.

“Ang pag-asa lang po ng ating kabataan ay kung ang mga ministro, mga pari, mga pastor, imam, ulama ay magsama-sama na ituro ang paraan ng ating Panginoon,” he added.

Cayetano made the remarks after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the suspension of e-sabong operations in the country upon the recommendation of Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año.

In justifying his decision, President Duterte cited the negative effect e-sabong was having on Filipinos, saying the activity was “working against our values” despite bringing in millions of pesos monthly in government revenues.

Cayetano pointed out that the government made a misstep in issuing licenses to e-sabong operators, characterizing the state’s attempt at extracting regulatory fees from online cockfighting as a bad deal that only produced more problems for the country.

“Sabi sa Filipino ‘di ba, kapag sobrang hirap, kapit sa patalim. Pero kapag kumapit ka sa patalim, doon talaga nagkakaroon ng malaking mga problema,” he said.

“Sabi nila wala po tayong pondo kaya kapit sa patalim. Tingnan niyo po, ang daming nag-suicide. May mga pulis po na nangholdap para makapagtaya lang. Merong mga nasa drugs dati, lugi pa sa e-sabong, may mga armas, nangingidnap po ng mga hindi makabayad ng utang,” he said.

Earlier in 2022, a Senate panel held four hearings on the disappearances of over 30 individuals reportedly linked to e-sabong activities. Prior to this, reports of suicides and criminal activity involving e-sabong participants had already begun garnering public attention.

The former Speaker pointed to the example of Taguig, where all forms of gambling are banned, as a model for what can be made possible when the government espouses the right kind of values.

“Dito po sa Taguig, wala tayong sabungan, wala tayong bingo, wala tayong casino, wala tayong POGO (Philippine offshore gaming operators). Bakit po? We believe in working hard,” Cayetano said.

“Regardless ng religion, sabi po ng Panginoon sa atin ‘di ba, mag-trabaho po tayo. Kung ano ang ating tinanim, iyan po ang ating aanihin,” he said.

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