Kalibo bishop calls on Duterte to not allow casinos in Boracay
ILOILO CITY — Kalibo Bishop Jose Corazon Tala-oc has appealed to President Duterte not to allow casinos on Boracay Island.
In a pastoral letter dated September 17, Tala-oc also called on the leaders of the island to oppose the putting up of casinos on the popular island-resort.
“We, Aklanons, have the responsibility to take care and protect Boracay,” Tala-oc said.
The President on August 27 announced that he is allowing casinos to operate on the island to help generate funds for the government’s COVID-19 pandemic response.
The pronouncement was a reversal of his statements in 2018 when the island was closed to tourists from April 26 to October 25 to undergo rehabilitation.
In March 2018, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) granted a provisional license to giant casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group (GEG) for a $500-million integrated casino resort project on the 1,032-hectare island.
GEG and local partner Leisure Resorts World Corp. acquired a 23-hectare property for the project in Barangay Manoc-Manoc, one of the three villages of the island.
The local government of Malay town in Aklan where the island is located had endorsed the controversial project in 2017 without holding a public consultation, just before it imposed a 15-year moratorium on new casinos.
But construction activities were stopped amid opposition from many residents and the Diocese of Kalibo.
Tala-oc said casinos and gambling are not needed in Boracay which has been repeatedly voted as among the best island destinations in the world due to its powdery white sand and crystal clear waters.
“Boracay is God’s gift to Aklan and to the whole world. It has become a family destination, a venue for educational advancement and entrepreneurship. It offers a wider avenue for employment, good source of livelihood for our people and revenues for the government. There so much that Boracay Island can offer because it is already a paradise,” he said.
“But why do we need to put up a gambling casino? Gambling is a game of chance which foments a culture contrary to the demands of sound reason. This is contrary to the human nature of whose inherent dignity precisely comes from the use of one’s intellect and free will,” Tala-oc said.
He said gambling “promotes not only indolence but also dependence, contrary to the work and industry for people to earn their living and contribute to the economic development of their community.”
He also pointed out that gambling will result in vices and other social problems.
“It will slowly weaken and eventually destroy the moral fiber of the people,” Tala-oc said.
He called on priests in diocese, parish pastoral councils, lay organizations and associations to form discerning groups on the issue.
Boracay residents have also expressed opposition to the putting up of casinos stressing that addressing the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the environment of the island should be the priority of the national government.
The problems include land ownership, overcrowding, solid waste management, sewerage and stable electricity and water supply.
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