International sabong online SINCE when has the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), the information arm of the government, become a polling firm?
Late last month, the PIA embarked on a survey research involving the controversial online sabong international 888, or online betting on live cockfighting matches, for “policymaking purposes.” The survey ended last week.
According to a news report, Ramon Lee Cualoping 3rd, the PIA director general, required the agency’s regional offices to conduct a quick response survey on stakeholders’ experience and views on it. Justifying his action, Cualoping said it was part of the agency’s research support for policy-making within the executive branch, hence “all regional offices are hereby directed to conduct data gathering … on online sabong international.”
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It will be recalled that in May 2022, former President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a stop to online cockfighting, saying that it was working against Filipino values and that it had destroyed families whose members were addicted to sabong international 888, citing reports of people pawning their possessions so they could bet on online cockfighting.
Actually, even before Duterte ordered a halt to the international sabong online, the Senate had recommended its suspension following an investigation into the disappearance of at least 30 cockfight enthusiasts since April 2021. To date, the investigation on the missing sabongeros has yet to be closed with no one still being charged or brought to court.
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In its survey involving questions on the region, province or city where the respondents reside, gender, age and educational attainment, the PIA assured that all answers “will be kept in strict confidence and all information collected will only be used for the purpose of the research.”
It also asks what best describes the respondent, with the following options to tick: game fowl farm owners or breeders; cockpit arena owner or operator; cockfighting derby organizer or promoter; bet taker, agents, employees/workers, including handlers, gaffers, referees, cock doctors, other personnel; and bettors or players/sabongeros.
The survey also asks if the respondent is familiar or not with online sabong international.
So much for the confidentiality clause. That is not the point.
Of course, Cualoping was right when he said part of his agency’s job is to give research support for policymaking within the executive branch. But conducting surveys is clearly not part of their mandate.
Also, with the media exposure given by the investigation into the missing sabongeros, who would not be aware of international online sabong?
Aside from that is the extent of betting on international online sabong or what is commonly referred to as “talpakan,” where even minor aged bettors are accommodated.
Familiar or not with new sabong international?
With the ills and miseries the international online sabong has unleashed, who will not be familiar with it?
While gambling before had been limited within the confines of the casinos where only moneyed people have access to, the Philippine offshore gaming with which only foreign nationals based in other countries can bet, and of course the illegal jueteng which low-income individuals could readily play for a few pesos, the onset of this e-sabong has almost everyone becoming addicted to this online form of gambling.
It should be noted that e-sabong is readily accessible to everyone, much like the illegal numbers game, but on a larger scale. As per reports, there are at least five to six betting stations per barangay in Pampanga.
While many will be tempted to say that we should just let these people play this latest gambling craze since it is their money after all, we just cannot turn a blind eye to the ill-effects this e-sabong or talpakan, have brought.
A nephew of my friend, former Candaba mayor Jerry Pelayo, committed suicide because he became heavily indebted due to his heavy betting on e-sabong. Initially, he sold some of their properties to pay the P600,000 debt he incurred from e-sabong.
However, he again accumulated a debt of P800,000 which he could no longer pay, forcing him to take his own life. His three children, all minors, will have to accept the fact they will grow up without a father to attend to their needs.
One of his farm helpers, who had been employed for more than four years, was caught stealing and admitted he had resorted to such acts to place his bets in online sabong.
These are but two cases that were brought about by this talpakan. Elsewhere, farmers have been reported selling their farm lots, carabaos, even mortgaging their own houses just to pay debts incurred as a result of their newfound addiction to new sabong international 888.
And why are these people trooping to the e-sabong betting stations? It is an accepted fact that gambling gives these people hopes of overcoming poverty overnight — a shortcut to a life of wealth, albeit false hope. For the more they pin their hopes on new sabong international 888 to break out of poverty, the more they are plunged into an abyss of debt, so deep that some of them are even forced to take their own lives.
This is worse than the illegal drug trade. Illegal drugs are not easy to get. Transactions are done discreetly. But e-sabong, being legal, can easily be accessible, with the reported five to six betting stations per barangay. There are even reports of minors, even 10-year-old kids, casting their bets.
If Cualoping really wants to help the executive department deal with e-sabong, he should get his agency to start collating reports on how many have committed suicide, how many have sold properties after having incurred debts from their addiction to online sabong, the families broken due to this latest gambling craze, those who were caught engaging in felonious acts just to support their gambling addiction, etc.
And not through some survey which is asking a question with an answer that has been obviously known to him: Are you familiar with e-sabong?
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