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Opinion

E-Sabong and PRRD

STRAIGHT TO THE POINT - Atty. Ruphil Bañoc - The Freeman

The problem of gambling is as old as time. There have been a lot of efforts made to discourage, if not prevent, the people from plunging into gambling.

However, the odds look insurmountable. One reason is that gambling seems so embedded in our culture that it has become a way of life for others. It is also an escape from the harsh realities of life for some, an escape which comes with a great cost.

Many also observe that even if we prohibit all kinds of gambling altogether, some form of gambling will continue to exist.

The foregoing realities should not distract us from the fact that gambling should be dealt with seriously in order to cushion its effects, particularly on families and the youth.

On e-sabong (online cockfighting), Duterte --apparently with some misgivings -- favors its continued operation, citing economic reasons. This refers to the revenues that the government generates from e-sabong. He, however, suggested that it should not operate 24 hours a day.

I disagree with the president on this particular issue, or on the non-suspension of e-sabong, for at least two reasons. First, the exact revenue intended for the government is highly questionable versus the gain mentioned by Atong Ang, one of the e-sabong operators.

Second, the social cost is just too high. May this not be a blot on his presidency.

E-sabong sweeps across the land like wildfire, leaving countless families buried more deeply in abject poverty as breadwinners waste their hard-earned money on this type of gambling. It does not have boundaries anymore. Even our OFWs are wasting their hard-earned income because of this kind of gambling.

I am also seriously worried about its effect on the youth. The accessibility of e-sabong worsens the problem.

There are suggestions that we should be stricter on the regulation of e-sabong instead of suspending or ending its operations. We know that is nice on paper. I am afraid that we will only wake up one morning realizing that the problem is too great to overcome. Now is the time to meet it decisively, no ifs, no buts.

Mr. President, you have already done so many commendable things for the country, not least of which is the reduction of crime rate because of your war on drugs. It is because many crimes are drug-related. You have nothing more to prove.

E-sabong will do more harm than good. It will create the evil we seek to defeat; criminality.

Once addicted to gambling, the people will lose their sense of right and wrong. Some will rob and steal. Others will kill. Countless more will continue to sink into the quicksand of poverty.

E-SABONG

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