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Duterte not keen on e-sabong suspension, cites gov't income from games

Angelica Y. Yang - Philstar.com
Duterte not keen on e-sabong suspension, cites gov't income from games
E-sabong involves remote betting on cockfights.
Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday that he is not keen on suspending e-sabong, the remote wagering of bets during live cockfighting events, because of the income which the government generates from the industry's continued operations, which can hit up to P8 billion this year.

This comes after the Senate issued a resolution urging the  Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., through a resolution, to suspend e-sabong operations until the cases of the 31 missing individuals linked to the activities are resolved. 

"Kaya ako, dahan-dahan na hindi muna ako nag-react kaagad na sabihin i-suspend because of the income that the government derives from allowing these kind of games to go online. Ang problema lang kasi, you cannot control the bettors," Duterte said during his recorded "Talk to the People" aired on Wednesday. 

("For me, I did not immediately react and pushed for the suspension because of the income that the government derives from allowing these kind of games to go online. The problem is, you can't control the bettors")

Even if he suspends e-sabong operations, perpetuators of illegal acts will resort to other means, according to him.

Duterte admitted that the country is "short of money" and that the government's collections from e-sabong will help augment funds. 

Pagcor says collections from continued e-sabong operations can reach P7.2 billion to P8 billion this year, according to the agency's chairperson and chief executive officer Andrea Domingo who spoke during the "Talk to the People."

Pagcor is in charge of regulating the e-sabong industry. At present, there are seven e-sabong licensees. 

During the "Talk to the People", Domingo said that the agency is in the process of fine-tuning their policies and procedures in vetting online sabong bettors, including requiring qualified applicants to disclose information related to the phones they're using to place bets. 

The industry came at the center of Senate probes on the disappearances of 31 sabong afficionadoes. The earliest reported disappearance took place on April 28, 2021, while the latest one, where six people were allegedly kidnapped, happened on Jan. 13, 2022. 

Twenty-three individuals, including Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III, signed a resolution calling for a halt in e-sabong operations as the Upper House conducts investigations into the missing people in questions.  

Weeks later, Malacañang ordered the police force and National Bureau of Investigation to investigate the disappearances of the individuals in question, but allowed e-sabong to continue unless otherwise ordered. 

Sotto earlier said that Pagcor does not seem to want to suspend e-sabong operations even if it has the power to do so, adding that he is disappointed in the agency for raising the issue to the president. 

E-SABONG

PAGCOR

PALACE

RODRIGO DUTERTE

SENATE

TITO SOTTO

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