Senadora Imee is perplexed. The Inter-Agency Task Force to combat the pandemic has allowed the resumption of cockfighting, “sabong” in the vernacular, but does not allow normal resumption of classroom learning.“Mas importante pa sa kanila ang sabong?” the chairperson of the basic education committee in the Upper House asks.DepEd Secretary Liling Briones also argued for normal classroom teaching before, but the IATF over-ruled her, for fear of children getting infected. And so our young students have to use their laptops (a privileged few) or their parents’ cellphones (for many) with their teachers and the education department providing learning modules. Everybody agrees that there can be no effective substitute for classroom teaching, and working parents find it difficult to cope with the unaccustomed rigors of e-learning, but what alternative do we have? The IATF, chaired by the DOH secretary rules us in these parlous days.But sabong, really? My recollection of a cockpit is one where adult bettors (many of whom are vulnerable senior citizens), cramp among each other in a muggy arena, shouting at the top of their voices, with “kristos” taking bets through hand signals and amazing memory, while watching roosters trying to slash each other with a razor-sharp “tari.”Did the IATF, or the LGU’s come up with proper social distancing rules, masks and face shield requirements, so as to contain the virus? Will there be temperature checks as well before eager aficionados enter the cockpits?But Sen. Marcos is right: if cockpit-crazies are allowed to congregate and lose their money, why not allow kids to congregate in normal classrooms and learn?* * *The ever-bankable and unsinkable gambling laureate, Atong Ang, had of course cashed in on an “electronic” version of sabong to make sure gambling addicts could while away the drudgery of quarantine, using their cellphones to place bets. Trust Double A to cash in on any form of gambling, wherever and whenever.The cockfights are beamed by satellite from a city in Laguna whose mayor is a good friend of Double A, and the electronic bets are placed by cellphone. Winnings, if any are properly credited to the bettor. Atong Ang’s e-sabong has become so widespread that the daily bets are estimated by an aficionado friend of mine at around a hundred million pesos each day.Yes Virginia, each day! That’s a lot of moolah (a billion pesos in ten days, 3 billion a month, 36 billion a year) and the earnings from which could well be used to finance Atong’s favored candidate in 2022!I would think the cops know where the sabungan is, no matter if it moves from one place to another in the same city, unless their intelligence is shushed up by big “intelihensya”.And I thought Pagcor was the only legal game in town. With casinos still closed and POGO revenues drying up with a 5-percent gross tax on all bets (win or lose), E-sabong must be the only game in town, other than good old jueteng, of course, where the kobradores also use cellphones to take bets in these days of strict quarantines.* * *Speaking of the police, now headed by Chief Debold of “mananita” fame, what were the Bantayan police doing when Spox Harry Roque came down from the heavens into Madridejos to “grace” an airport inauguration, where hundreds or maybe a thousand onlookers forgot social distancing, awed as they were with the presence of the man who spoke for the President, mismo!Oh well, if the Chief could forego IATF rules on his birthday, why not the Spox in the island of danggit and alimasag, not to mention the chief supplier of eggs to mainland Cebu?* * *And in the capital, starting tomorrow, the powerful “third chamber” of Congress, its bicameral committee, will finalize the compromises that make up the General Appropriations Act of 2021, the “election year” budget.Will the Senate’s Don Quixote of the pork barrel, Sen. Ping Lacson, succeed in paring down the congressional insertions of the warring factions of the previous and incumbent Speaker of the HoR?Lacson wants to transfer billions in the liempo-laden public works budget to assist grief-stricken and typhoon-visited LGU’s, and add to the health and education departments in these pandemic times. But will sensible budgeting triumph over the politics of the election year budget?