MANILA, May 3(Mabuhay) –Citing lack of material time to tackle the measure, at least four senators believe that the passage of the bill seeking to grant a franchise to an online sabong firm is already dead in the 18th Congress.

“Franchise is dead,” Senate President Vicente Sotto III said in a text message shared to reporters on Tuesday.

Senator Grace Poe, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Services which handles the bill, said there is no time to deliberate on the measure. Apart from that, many oppose the granting of franchise for the operations of e-sabong.

“Kulang sa oras at marami ang hindi sang-ayon,” Poe said in a separate text message.

Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, who led the Senate investigation into the missing persons involved in e-sabong activities, said the latest decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to stop e-sabong operations will also affect the passage of the franchise measure.

President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the recommendation of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to stop e-sabong or online cockfighting operations, which is being blamed for the deterioration of moral values among many Filipinos.

“Lack of material time to act on the franchise bill plus the President’s stoppage order would mean demise of the e-sabong industry unless the next administration would decide to resurrect it,” Dela Rosa said.

Both houses of Congress are currently on break to give way to the 2022 national and local elections campaign. They will resume sessions on May 23 or after the polls.

The 18th Congress will adjourn sine die on June 4 until July 24.

For his part, Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said e-sabong franchise bills should not be fast-tracked as it needs further deliberations, specifically on its effects on society.

“Pagdating sa e-sabong franchise bill(s), dapat hindi ito madaliin. Dapat pag-usapan [nang] mabuti kung ano ba talaga ang mga epekto ng legalization ng mga iba’t-ibang uri ng sugal tulad ng e-sabong,” he said.

“Wag madaliin. Mas mabuti siguro ipa-desisyon na ito sa bagong papasok na Kongreso,” he added.

In an earlier statement, Poe said the issue of missing cockfighters should be resolved first before the franchise of Lucky 8 Star Quest could be tackled in her panel.

Lucky 8 Star Quest Inc., a firm owned by gaming tycoon Charlie “Atong” Ang, is one of the e-sabong licensees being questioned over the disappearance of the cockfight enthusiasts.

Last September 2021, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading the bill granting Atong Ang’s Lucky 8 Star Quest Inc. a franchise to operate anywhere in the Philippines offsite betting activities on duly-licensed cockfighting, derbies and similar activities through online or other modern means. (MNS)

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