On this feast of the Holy Innocents, we decry the opening of a casino in Taboc, Opol, Misamis Oriental.

On June 15, 1993, the archdiocese, headed by the late Archbishop Jesus B. Tuquib, D.D, rallied successfully against the proposal of putting up a casino in the city of Cagayan de Oro. Together with the City Mayor and other civic organizations and lay movements, they were able to convince the former President Fidel V. Ramos of the country to stop the plan to operate a casino in the archdiocese.  Archbishop Emeritus Antonio J. Ledesma, S.J also reiterated this stand in 2017 on the plan of putting up a Casino in the archdiocese. 

Grand Imperial Casino at Opol, Misamis Oriental (courtesy of CDODev.com)

Last December 19 we were caught by surprise when we heard the news that a casino opened in Taboc, Opol, Misamis Oriental.  There were questions as to who gave the clearance. Was there a consultation done on the social acceptability of the said gambling institution? We deplore the opening of the said gambling den as it is contrary to the values we hold and celebrate this Christmas. Christmas is for the families.

Archbishop Ledesma quoted Pope Francis’ homily in 2015 when he visited the Philippines, where the Pope said, “The devil is the father of lies.  Often, he hides his snares behind the appearance of sophistication, the allure of being ‘modern’, ‘like everyone else’.  He distracts us with the promise of ephemeral pleasures, superficial pastimes.  And so, we squander our God-given gifts by tinkering with gadgets; we squander our money on gambling and drink; we turn in on ourselves.  We forget to remain focused on the things that really matter.  We forget to remain, at heart, children of God.” The opening of the casino is indeed an awful act.

Grand Imperial Opol opened last Sunday, December 19. That’s the main casino building and the large parking area. (CDODev.com)

Gambling involves risking money or something of value on uncertain events driven by chance. Sometimes one can win more than the risk but ultimately gamblers as a group will lose over time.  They become morally unacceptable when they deprive someone of what is necessary to provide for his needs and those of others.  The passion for gambling risks becoming an enslavement. It is addictive. (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 2413) It is in this sense that we oppose the operation of a gambling institution even if it is legal and much more since its clandestinely constructed in the archdiocese.

The Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in 2006, released a pastoral letter reiterating the stand of the church on the immorality of gambling be it legal or illegal.  They further expressed their concern for the families being exploited and destroyed.  More families will be adversely affected by it. It warns us that gambling that is organized, widespread, and systemic, whether legal or illegal, is not desirable. It is creating a culture of gambling that is seriously eroding the moral values of our people. In its illegal form, especially jueteng, gambling has bred a clandestine network of corruption that feeds itself on the hundreds of millions of pesos lost to gambling especially by the poor.  

Owned by Robinsons, the facility has a capacity of 125 slot machines but only 67 are so far installed to comply with physical distancing. (CDODev.com)

We are up against corruption at all levels.  Allowing this new form of gambling results to another form of corruption – the corruption of family values which are inherently gospel values. Whatever economic development or revenues maybe derive from this if there are any, at the cost of the destruction of families is not and will never be justifiable.  “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his soul, loses the values our families uphold and foster.”  (Mark 8:36)

The country has enough of these anti-social factors. We do not need another way of gambling or one that promotes a culture of gambling as Archbishop Ledesma declared.  We denounce the proliferation of on-line gambling such the “on-line sabong” and all others.  Countless individuals and families have been damaged because of this.  We need a better law to help uplift the conditions of our poor brothers and sisters.  We need an authentic human development programs that alleviate the conditions of our families not gambling.

We enjoin our government officials; local or in the province to act in favor of the families being the heart of society.   May you be reminded of your noble task to work for the total or integral human development. We believe in your capacity to seek for more creative ways in fulfilling these tasks for the common good.  We cannot allow another form of addiction such as gambling to proliferate in our society. We have enough of all these!

Hence, we in the archdiocese are consistently standing up for the gospel values, family values and the dignity of each one as we declare boldly our stand in the archdiocese even before:

·         To denounce illegal gambling in all its forms and prevent its legalization,

·         To combat the expansion of organized and systemic legal gambling such as the putting up of casinos, on-line gambling, and

·         To denounce the clandestine construction of a casino in the archdiocese. 

·         To refrain from soliciting or receiving funds from illegal and legal gambling so as not to promote a culture of gambling and,

·         To organize and discern common action preventing the proliferation of a culture of death brought about by the culture of gambling such as casinos and so on.

May the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph grant us the courage to promote what is good, just and one that truly promotes the integral development of every family and to boldly denounce a culture that kills the inherent gospel values of each family such as a culture of gambling.

Archbishop Jose A. Cabantan, D.D

Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro

December 28, 2021

Cover photo courtesy of Herbie Gomez

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