No halt of e-sabong yet? Sotto dismayed: Affected kin feel ‘double disappointment’
MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday expressed disappointment over Malacañang’s decision not to temporarily halt e-sabong operations even as senators strongly called for its suspension in light of the disappearance of over 30 cockfight enthusiasts.
But the “disappointment of the Senate,” Sotto said, “cannot compare to the disappointment” affected families will feel.
“When I say ‘families affected,’ hindi lang ‘yung may nawawalang mga kaanak, ‘yung mga nagrereklamong pamilya dahil namomorblema sila sa kanilang kapamilya na nalululong sa e-sabong. Double disappointment kaysa sa amin [not just those who lost relatives, the families that are complaining of their relatives being hooked to e-sabong. They are feeling double disappointment],” he told reporters in a press conference in Pasig City.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea earlier ordered the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation to look into the disappearance of over 30 cockfight enthusiasts.
In the meantime, e-sabong operations will continue, pending results of the investigations.
This is contrary to a Senate resolution earlier signed by 23 senators, urging Malacañang and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to suspend e-sabong or online cockfighting operations in the country until the cases of the missing “sabungeros” have been resolved.
Asked if senators will still appeal the suspension of e-sabong operations, Sotto said it would be “useless.”
He, meanwhile, called out Pagcor for bringing the issue to Malacañang when it can already act on the senators’ call itself.
“Ako ay nalulungkot na ang Pagcor dinala pa sa presidente ang usapin samantalang puwede ‘yon aksyunan. What does it say? Ayaw nila,” Sotto said.
(I am saddened that Pagcor brought the issue to the President when in fact it can act upon it amongst themselves.)
In a Senate hearing last week, Pagcor chairperson Andrea Domingo explained that while Pagcor would like to address the issues arising from the e-sabong industry, it could not suspend its operations without a “clear and legal basis,” citing legal implications and a “serious loss of revenue.”
“Ang tingin namin, based on the law, pwedeng sila [ang mag-suspend]. Suspension lang e. ‘Di naman revocation of license e. Suspension lang ang hinihingi namin. Kaya it’s within the power of Pagcor,” Sotto went on.
(Based on the law Pagcor can suspend it. It is not revocation of license, we are only asking for its suspension, and that is within the power of Pagcor.)
“So the mere fact na pinarating nila sa president ang usapin eh alam niyo na na ayaw nila [you’ll know that they really do not want to suspended it],” he added.
For his part, Senator Panfilo Lacson echoed Sotto’s view, saying Pagcor has the “power” to suspend if it has the power to give the licenses.
“Kung ikaw mayroong power na mag-license, may power ka rin to suspend. Kaya nung tinanong namin ang Pagcor kung ano ang magiging recommendation nila just in case makausap nila si presidente, hindi makapagbigay ng categorical answer. So ibig sabihin, ang recommendation nila ayaw i-suspend [If you have power to issue a license, you also have the power to suspend it. That is why when we asked what would be their recommendation if they talked to the President, they cannot give a categorical answer. Meaning they don’t want to suspend it]” Lacson added.
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