Catholic bishop in central Philippines rallies faithful to oppose casino operations

Bishop Tala-oc of Kalibo said the operation of casinos "will slowly weaken and eventually destroy the moral fiber of the people”

A Catholic bishop in the central Philippines appealed to the faithful to oppose the operation of casinos on the resort island of Boracay.

In a statement, Bishop Jose Corazon Tala-oc of Kalibo said the people “have the responsibility to take care and protect Boracay” and “not to allow gambling casino that will destroy our cherished land.”

The statement was read during Masses in all the diocese’s parishes on Sunday, September 19.

The prelate said Boracay is “God’s gift” not just to the province of Aklan but to the world, adding that casino operations will only foment “a culture contrary to the demands of sound reason.”

“This gradual takeover of the human psyche by gambling is a big liability that can become no less than a socio-affective disorder,” said Bishop Tala-oc. “It will slowly weaken and eventually destroy the moral fiber of the people,” he added.

Last month, the Episcopal Commission on the Laity condemned the government’s decision to lift the ban on the operation of casinos on the resort island of Boracay.

“We know that gambling will only bring corruption, kidnappings, killings, and it destroys the family and the life of people,” said Bishop Broderick Pabillo, head of the commission.

“Is money running our lives, all our principles?” said the prelate. “Do we set aside our words and our goodness because we need money?” he said in an interview over Radio Veritas 846.

The presidential palace has announced that President Rodrigo Duterte has lifted a moratorium on casino operations in the country’s top holiday island to generate taxes for its COVID-19 pandemic response.

Duterte has had a longstanding opposition to gambling, halting the construction of new casinos in the Philippines, one of Asia’s fastest-growing gambling markets before the pandemic.

“The president has given his go signal allowing the operation of a casino in Boracay,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

He did not say if the lifting of the moratorium would be temporary or permanent.

Strict and lengthy coronavirus lockdowns last year battered the Philippine economy and hit tax revenues.

No casinos currently operate in the 10-square-kilometer Boracay island, famed for its powdery white sands, turquoise waters and lively night life.

Bishop Pabillo said the country should have not been led by people whose words “are not rooted in the Word of God.”

The move to allow the operation of casinos augurs well for provisional casino license holders like the Philippines’ Alliance Global Group Inc, and the partnership of Leisure & Resorts World Corp and Macau’s Galaxy Entertainment Group.

In 2018, Duterte rejected Galaxy’s plan to build a US$500 million integrated casino resort in Boracay.

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