The publicized project of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) for a $ 15-B “gaming complex” ala Las Vegas style beside SM Mall of Asia understandably will also be a complex of good and not-so-good. The project has undergone some shifts in presentation in order to gain acceptability in a Catholic culture: from gambling city to entertainment city to tourism city. Definitely with so much money at the disposal, it will be all three: gambling, entertainment and tourism. And only the future will tell which will be the dominant one.
The plan is impressive: hotels, malls, museums, cultural centers, sports arenas, parks, residential villages and then of course gaming facilities and casinos Las Vegas – style, and thousand of jobs created by the entire complex.
When Bishops are invited to bless the cornerstone of such a complex, they certainly would be hard-put to make a distinction, between the good, not so good and bad in the entire complex which are only in intentions, but are not yet there. They bless and hope and pray that everything will turn out for the good of the people and for the glory of God. But no blessing for gambling!
The CBCP is for whatever good, moral, economic and social that is in the planned complex. But the CBCP had made it clear through its Past Statements that all forms of gambling, legal or illegal, must be discouraged from spreading as a moral and social cancer (Statement of 2003). We advocate the combating of the expansion of organized and systemic legal gambling into a culture of gambling.
We had said that gambling exploits the poor. With their hard –earned money the poor are attracted and lured by the easy money that gambling vainly promises. Loss of money through gambling inflicts great suffering on families.
We advocate the adoption of more altruistic and socialized alternatives for the great sum of money spent by both rich and poor on gambling. While it is true that games of chance are not in themselves contrary to justice, the passion for gambling risks becoming an enslavement which results in the deprivation of people of what they need. (cf. Catechism of Catholic Church, 2413). We advocate not simply “moderating greed” but completely eradicating greed which is the capital sin causing poverty and corruption in our Christian community.
+ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO,
Archbishop of Jaro
April 5, 2008