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Lawmakers urged to be critical of e-sabong franchise applications
FORMER Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has challenged lawmakers to be more critical of the 25-year franchise applications from e-sabong operators currently being discussed in the Lower House amid mounting opposition to the measure from religious leaders and other legislators.
This as members of the House of Representatives are considering approving a second franchise application by an e-sabong operator despite existing regulations put in place by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) since April this year.
“Kumbaga y’ung emergency use ng e-sabong na ginawa ng PAGCOR eh binigyan ang operators ng license kasi emergency daw sila, wala na silang pondo. Pero bakit mo bibigyan ngayon ang e sabong operators ng full access o full authorization ng 25 years na hindi pa nga nakaka-six months, hindi mo pa nakikita kung eto talaga ay nakakabuti o nakakasama or neutral sa ating society,” Cayetano said.
“We know naman that one member of Congress, kahit five or ten cannot tell PAGCOR to do something and they’ll just do it. The President can pero kami hindi. Pero y’ung pagbibigay ng franchise may say naman tayo dyan at yun nga, bakit mo bibigyan ng 25 years na mag-operate ang e-sabong ng hindi mo pa nga alam yung epekto nito ‘di ba?” he added.
Cayetano made the remarks at a press conference on Thursday, December 2, days after the newly-installed head of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) denounced the legalization of e-sabong as a “disastrous” move by the government.
“In the context of the pandemic that has locked down the elderly, the vulnerable, and the children for too long, the legalization of e-sabong has been one of the most disastrous things ever allowed by the government,” CBCP President Bishop Pablo Virgilio David said in a November 30, 2021 Facebook post.
The former Speaker, who vehemently opposed the approval of the 25-year franchise granted by Congress to e-sabong operator Lucky 8 Star Quest Inc. in September, said the best outcome would still be for PAGCOR to revoke the operating licenses it has given to at least seven operators.
“We’re not asking, you know, for people to be unreasonable ‘di ba, but of course kung ako tatanungin mo, gusto ko i-revoke din ng PAGCOR y’ung license, pero nandyan ‘yan eh, nag-o-operate na,” Cayetano said.