Bare Truth by Rose de la Cruz
Bare Truth

The evils of esabong in Pampanga

Dec 1, 2021, 4:33 AM
Rose De La Cruz

Rose De La Cruz

Columnist

I listened intently to Ted Failon over TV5 Radyo last Tuesday as he was citing the evils of esabong (electronic cockfighting), which had been victimizing children as young as 5 and farmers, who live hand to mouth and yet would sell land and carabao just to gamble in that game which takes only less than 15 seconds to complete one match.

Whoever designed and commercialized this game would certainly be punished by our Lord because of the evil he created in the minds and consciousness of the most vulnerable people—those whose desire to uplift their lot think gambling of any type is their savior, until they literally lose everything.

If that company or individual’s fortunes flourish now, I hope that karma would get back at him or at the company in ways they would never imagine, taking not just what they own but everything that matters in their lives—families and relations and even their own health.

I have always shunned gambling in life. Occasionally when out of town I would go along with colleagues and friends to a casino but set aside a small sum of P100 only for the slot machine. That gone, I will leave the area of temptation.

I could not help but shirk while listening to tales of woe and misfortunes that students (young as 5 who could understand how to use the internet) and farmers who barely earn from their farms gamble everything (P100 is gone in just less than 15 seconds) and with the esabong operating 24 X7 imagine how many more esabong victimizes and how many farmers would commit suicide once they lose their shirts to that senseless hobby.

Gov. Dennis Pineda orders its closure

Last August 19, the Inquirer ran a story of Pampanga Gov. Dennis Pineda ordering the closure of the home-based online sabong betting stations in the two cities and 19 towns of Pampanga due to mounting complaints in social media.

Several agents of a company operating Sabong Express in the province have confirmed the shutdown.

“We were told by policemen not to operate betting stations in houses anymore. They told us it was Pineda who gave the order,” an online sabong agent told the Inquirer.

Mabalacat City police director Lt. Col. Soledad Elefanio and an official in the provincial capitol have confirmed Pineda’s order.

“Yes, it is now prohibited to use residences as betting stations. Only betting stations located in business establishments are authorized to operate. The directive came from the governor several days ago,” Elefanio said in a text message to the Inquirer on Tuesday night. But this would not stop that gambling business because everything is done online (cellphone, laptops and tablets).

Victims are poorest of the poor

On Aug. 5, the Catholic priests of the seven parish churches in nearby Magalang town expressed their opposition to the proliferation of online sabong (cockfighting), saying the internet-based gaming has been victimizing the poorest of the poor.

In their letter to Magalang Vice Mayor Norman Lacson, presiding officer of the municipal legislative council, the priests of the seven parish churches in the town expressed their concern “against the proliferation of online sabong and its betting stations throughout the municipality.”

They asked the legislative council to pass an ordinance that would regulate the conduct of online sabong in Magalang because it can be accessed by anybody, including minors.

“We earnestly appeal that the current online sabong in our municipality be strictly regulated, if not totally eradicated,” the Catholic priests said in their letter to Lacson.

The letter was signed by Fr. Dino Albert Pineda of the San Bartolome Parish, Fr. Arnold Rivera of the Good Shepherd Parish, Fr. Lord Kristoffer Beltran of the Christ the Divine Healer Parish, Fr. Al Manacmul III of the Holy Eucharist Parish, Fr. John Paul Cabrera of the San Ildefonso Parish, Fr. John Anthony Tordera of the Lord’s Epiphany Parish, and Fr. Ivan Ray Torno of the Santo Rosario Parish.

The priests said online sabong results in debts and commission of petty crimes because only a very small percentage of the bettors win.

As usual Atong Ang is the mastermind

A report of SunStar Pampanga said the company that runs esabong is Lucky 8 Star Quest Inc., whose operator is Pitmasters Live games owned by Charlie “Atong” Ang, the perpetual gambling lord (whose business flourished during the time Gloria Macapagal Arroyo).

In the congressional session last October, a bill (House Bill 10199) granting 25 year franchise to Ang’s company for “live broadcast of cockfighting and derbies through online” was tackled on third and final reading with a vote of 161 against 2 dissenters.

The bill allowed the esabong company to set up establishmnets to operate cockfighting online.

The House approved the measure because of its being able to raise revenues.

Former Speaker Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano dissented on the bill saying esabong and other forms of gambling destroys the “moral fiber of our society.” And its being online would make it easier to victimize so many people, especially the most vulnerable and most gullible.

PagCor allowed it

Esabong was granted a license to operate by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.

What made the congressmen grant the 25-year franchise. How much grease flowed into the House of Representatives? How much revenues do they expect to generate from this vice?


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