Re-electionist Senator Leila M. de Lima bewailed Mr. Duterte’s justification of the continued operations of e-sabong because of its supposed generation of billions in revenue.
De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, lamented how Duterte has chosen to drumbeat the purported huge revenues derived from online cockfighting instead of acknowledging its ill effects.
“There is no reason to allow e-sabong to continue to operate if it brings more harm than good. Hindi dapat ibinibida ng gobyerno yung malaking kita sa sugal. Sa halip, ang dapat ipinapaliwanag sa mga tao ay ang mga hindi magandang epekto ng sugal lalo na sa mga kabataan,” she said.
“We can always recover economic losses by other means or sources, but the social costs and harm done to our youth’s psycho are irreversible,” she added.
In his public address, Duterte maintained that he is not keen on suspending the operations of e-sabong, stating that the government is getting billions of pesos from its operations.
Following the disappearance of at least 31 sabungeros, it may be recalled that the Senate transmitted to Malacañang and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) its resolution calling for the suspension of e-sabong operations in the country.
Duterte reportedly told lawmakers they would understand his position if they have an idea of just how much e-sabong generates in terms of revenue.
The lady Senator from Bicol pointed out that the legalization of gambling and e-sabong has only further strengthened the network of jueteng gambling lords and their power and influence over national and local politics.
“Let us not forget that corruption, which continues to be prevalent in the country and is considered as the most basic problem of Philippine society, is also rooted in jueteng as a form of gambling,” she said.
“Now, jueteng lords have started to diversify and invest in legal gambling. This has served to reinforce the conduct of illegal jueteng by a sheer monopoly of power over the gambling industry by jueteng lords,” she added.
Aside from its corrupting effect, De Lima stressed that e-gambling carries with it a lot of auxiliary vices and crimes that are truly alarming.
She said these include prostitution, human trafficking, drugs, money laundering and now kidnapping or serious illegal detention and possibly, murder.
“It costs too much to police. It is not something that we should promote to our people as a way of life. Hindi kailanman matutumbasan ng ipinagmamalaking kita ng gobyerno ang masisirang kinabukasan, lalo na ng kabataan,” De Lima said. (30)