Senator Christopher “Bong” Go highlighted on Tuesday, 12 September, during a budget hearing for the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) which he presided over as vice chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, the timely and rapidly growing potential of e-sports not only in the Philippines but also globally.
With a proposed budget of P131 million for 2024, GAB, which is responsible for regulating and supervising professional sports, has also been keenly observing the rise of e-sports and its increasing importance in the professional sports landscape.
“As to the Games and Amusements Board, I also want to know the developments in professional sports particularly the emergence of e-sports,” said Go.
“Napansin ko na talagang marami pong sumasali at ako po’y natutuwa dito sa e-sports dahil kahit saan pwede silang mag-participate,” he added.
The senator emphasized the role of e-sports in his broader campaign against illegal drugs. “Isa rin po ito sa paraan upang mailayo natin ang kabataan sa illegal na droga,” Go added.
By promoting e-sports as an alternative to harmful activities, Go aims to engage the youth in a constructive and potentially lucrative field, contributing to their overall well-being.
Go also mentioned that e-sports competitions are not just confined to metropolitan areas but have reached even far-flung provinces like Zamboanga Sibugay where he was invited to grace an e-sports activity there early this year.
“Ang daming sumasali, as far as sa napuntahan ko sa Zamboanga Sibugay, may mga competitions po sila tungkol sa e-sports,” he revealed.
In February, Go attended the 22nd Araw ng Sibugay and Sibug-Sibug Festival in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay. The event featured the province’s inaugural and largest in-person Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Tournament.
The senator expressed his enthusiasm for the event, highlighting its role in uplifting the community, especially the youth, by offering them a platform to display their talents, particularly in e-sports.
During the hearing, Go also asked GAB Chairman Richard Santos Clarin about the use of their confidential funds and their efforts to fight illegal gambling and game fixing in professional games.
Go asked Clarin where they use their confidential funds and if they use them for their illegal gambling campaign. Clarin replied that they have a four million peso budget for confidential funds, which they use to combat illegal gambling.
Go and fellow senators such as Majority Leader Joel Villanueva also asked GAB if they are still hearing reports of game fixing in professional games and if they are able to counter it. Clarin said that they hope to do so and that they are very aggressive in coordinating with professional leagues, such as the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) and the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL), under the direction of commissioners Willie Marcial and Kenneth Duremdes, respectively.
“As soon as they find na may abnormality, we discuss and investigate. Problema lang, hard to find concrete evidence for it to stand in court. Pero nakikita naman kapag may abnormalities sa stats ng certain professional basketball player or results of the game,” he said.
Go emphasized that his attention to e-sports during the GAB budget hearing reflects his commitment to adapting to the evolving sports industry. To end, he pointed out the potential of all kinds of sports as a catalyst for social improvement, especially in fighting issues like drug abuse and illegal gambling.
His clear message, “Get into sports, get into e-sports, and stay away from drugs,” summarizes his dual goals of promoting sports and improving social well-being.
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