Revenues from e-sabong fund Universal Health Care: PRRD

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (File photo)

MANILA – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Thursday said e-sabong or online cockfighting in the country contributes to revenue that can be used to fund the government’s Universal Health Care (UHC) program.

In a speech in Palo, Leyte, Duterte reiterated that the government has earned over PHP640 million monthly since January from the online gambling activity.

“E-sabong gives the government PHP642 million a month. In one year, it gives the government billions,” he said.

Aside from providing funding for hospitals and medicine, he said revenues generated from e-sabong can also be used for education and infrastructure.

Duterte said temporarily closing down the businesses of operators without any violations would be unfair.

“It’s not the fault of the management…it’s the fault of evil men doing something wrong,” he added.

He said it was best to leave law enforcers to investigate the disappearance of 31 “sabungeros” (cockfighting enthusiasts).

“Let the police solve the problem,” he added.

Duterte, in a prerecorded Talk to the People aired Wednesday, appealed to lawmakers to respect his decision to allow the continued operations of e-sabong because the government is “short of money.”

“Ang appeal ko lang sa mga congressman, huwag na lang niyong anuhin iyan, kumikita iyan. Walang nakikinabang diyan ha, except PAGCOR and except ‘yung mga malalaking player (My appeal to congressmen, just don’t ask for its suspension. It is generating money. No one is benefitting from its operations, except PAGCOR and key players [of e-sabong]),” Duterte said.

In a March 8 memorandum, Malacañang ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe the disappearances of individuals involved in e-sabong and submit their findings to the Office of the President (OP) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) within 30 days.

The memo also directed the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to investigate possible violations of e-sabong operators.

To date, the Department of the Interior and Local Government earlier said authorities have identified at least eight suspects in the disappearances of sabungeros.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said they will seek the assistance of the courts in serving the warrants of arrest to the suspects and determine their participation in the 31 missing sabungero cases as soon as there is enough evidence. (PNA)

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