Press Release
February 24, 2022

Opening statement of Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Hearing on the rising number of missing persons allegedly involved in sabong and e-sabong

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I'd like to thank the Chairman for taking time to call this hearing. It's a very important matter and I'd like to say hello to our colleagues. Since we are not in session, we don't see each other. But a special mention to our colleagues, Sen. Lacson, Sen. Sotto, and Sen. Villanueva, who are busy campaigning and yet consider this a very important hearing, and our President today to attend. Thank you talaga. And I personally appreciate your presence in this hearing kasi imbes na umiikot kayo eh nag-aabala kayo dito sa napakalaking issue na ito.

So let me also join many of our colleagues who have expressed their concern on the disappearance of, as was updated, 31 people in connection with sabong and e-sabong.

As Sen. Joel had mentioned, we already know that so many problems are associated with e-sabong and gambling. And online gambling makes it even easier. So he mentioned broken families, mga pamilyang apektado, suicides, lahat yan alam na natin. I don't even have to repeat it.

But even in the news I think today, pati pulis nang-holdup ng gas station para makabayad daw, either pambayad daw o pangsugal pa niya. So it's really terrible and it is very clear that this is a social illness. So we have options. As Sen. Grace Poe correctly pointed out, there is a franchise bill pending in her committee. This has already been reported out. With all due respect, I would have wanted to ask more questions, especially to PAGCOR, especially to the franchise holder, because I know Sen. Poe does her best to explain when all of us, when we have the floor. I had wanted the opportunity to be able to directly ask these people these kinds of questions.

Kaya very timely po ang pagtawag niyo kasi this gives us another opportunity to directly question these people who are bringing in, who are encouraging, who are financing all the elements that go into a lucrative online gambling institution in our country.

And I mentioned that there are different people, groups that play into this because it's not just the franchise holder, it would also be the loan sharks, creditors, online payment systems that are not doing their job well, which require regulations on our part. Because paano magkakautang ng ganun-ganun kung ang laman ng debit card niya is P2,000. For example po ako, nag-Gcash ako. Pupunta ako sa coffee shop sasabihin ko, "Sorry ah wala na pala laman ang Gcash ko, 50 pesos na lang pala." Tapos ito ang totoo niyan, magte-text ako sa staff ko, sasabihin, "Pakilagyan mo naman ng pera ang Gcash ko," kasi literally ang digital wallet ko, walang laman. I cannot buy. But how can they gamble? May limits yan, di ba? O ang nangyari ba dito ay parang may credit card na ito na walang mga limit? Na ang limit, extend, extend, extend, na kahit ang capacity mo to pay, because you cannot apply for a credit card, they look at your capacity to pay. But pagdating dito sa gambling, wala na ba yun?

So there are so many questions that go into this. It is so important that we take our time na himayin natin ito. The initial concern of course is the disappearance, the lives at stake here, the people who have died. Pero sabi nga ni Sen. Joel, [kasama mga estudyante]. Again, I go back, we have a choice. Ang pinag-uusapan kanina is nagbigay ng authority ang PAGCOR. That's one choice. We allow PAGCOR to do their mandate, to give authorities left and right. Second, we give a franchise and we put whatever monitoring, check and balances we want. But third, we ban it. We determine as a country that this is not the kind of policy we want for the country. This is not the future we want. I don't have to say the words. Sen. Joel said it before me. What example are we giving our children? Okay lang to gamble, okay lang umutang, okay lang magkanda-sira-sira ang pamilya? We have a choice to make a policy that says this is not okay.

And I go back, my last point, if we look at the last few years, we passed a law taxing POGOs. Sabi natin, we do not want POGOs in the country, but given various factors, including the fact that gambling does not happen in the country, Filipinos are not involved in gambling in the country, then we have allowed it, and we will be taxing POGOs, employees, and so on and so forth. Yun ang ating source ng revenues for social concerns. Huwag na natin dagdagan. Let's see how this works first. Let's see what kind of revenues we get out of this. Yun pa lang, alam na natin maraming problema. A colleague of ours has also filed a resolution seeing how damaging the existence of POGOs are in our country. Tapos dadagdagan pa natin. Ginagawa pa nating kabuhayan, pinapayagan na maging kabuhayan ito, not just for those operating e-sabong, but all the other members of that whole wheel that makes it turn, like I said, dun sa nagpapa-utang, sa nagpapatakbo ng maliliit na betting stations, and so on and so forth.

So malalim ito, Mr. Chairman, again salamat na tinawag niyo itong hearing na ito, himayin po natin ito, tiyagain po natin, tutal pareho naman tayong naka-break. Pero itong mga kasama natin, nagka-campaign, nandito. Tiyagain po natin kahit ilang araw ho ito abutin. I am sure willing ang mga kasama natin to find a solution to it. And I hope it is similar to what Sen. Joel and I want, na ma-ban na itong mga ganitong klaseng activities. Maraming salamat.

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