Just as not to defend truth is to suppress it, so also not to oppose what is immoral or illegal is to approve it. To neglect to fight evil when one can do it is no less a sin than to encourage it. (Pope Felix III)
This is an urgent and ardent plea addressed to our government officials from the local to the national level. It is also a straight and strong appeal to private individuals and corporate entities involved in the same serious moral issue with socio-political undertones.
Stop the Small Town Lottery or STL, please!
For those who do not know and those who refuse to admit it: STL is the legal cover-up for the illegal numbers game of jueteng. The endorsement of STL simply means the promotion of jueteng. We were well appraised that all intelligent computations mathematically show STL will not survive financially without jueteng behind it.
If fact, we are told both STL and jueteng have the same operators and collectors, the same poor victims and the same influential wealthy beneficiaries. With STL and jueteng, our poor people become poorer while the gambling payola recipients become twice enriched. STL and jueteng together is legal and illegal gambling combined. They are a dangerous and insidious pairing.
We ask: Is it not enough that there are already millions of poor people in the country? Is it not enough that there are men, women and children in the country who no longer eat what they need, when they have to? Is there not enough poverty in the country that the poor should have even less because of STL and jueteng?
It would be hard to find elected officials in the country who did not promise during elections that they would serve the poor, work for human development and attend to the common welfare. This is why it would be unconscionable for them to adopt STL and automatically allow jueteng that exploit their already poor constituencies. We pray: Would that our elected officers do not allow themselves to be instruments of poverty aggravation instead of poverty alleviation.
Even if STL is legal, does this make it necessarily moral? And when something legal as STL is paired with something illegal as jueteng, is this not in fact something illegal? And would our local and national officials dare promote any illegal operation in the country? With the adoption of STL, it would be next to impossible to stop jueteng.
And so we make this appeal: Stop STL please! It is another cause of corruption, another means of exploitation of the poor. The country has enough of these anti-social factors. Whatever economic development our government shall have proudly achieved will be diminished or negated by the corruption and exploitation that accompany STL and jueteng.
"If corruption causes serious harm from a material point of view and places a costly burden on economic growth, still more harmful are its effects on immaterial goods, closely connected to the qualitative and human dimension of life in society. Political corruption, as the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church teaches, 'compromises the correct functioning of the State, having a negative influence on the relationship between those who govern and the governed. It causes a growing distrust with respect to public institutions, bringing about a progressive disaffection in the citizens with regard to politics and its representatives with a resulting weakening of institutions.' (No. 411)." (The Fight Against Corruption, Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Vatican City, No. 4)
Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines,
Sgd) + ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO
November 30, 2006