Joseph Peter Calleja, Manila
Updated: April 27, 2021 08:54 AM GMT
Bishop Victor Bendico of Baguio has voiced opposition to plans to legalize forms of online gambling in Benguet province. (Photo courtesy of Baguio Diocese)
A Catholic bishop in the Philippines has condemned plans by authorities in a northern province to legalize online gambling.
Bishop Victor Bendico of Baguio said the move by lawmakers in Benguet province to raise tax revenue to cushion the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic in the area would only serve to perpetuate another form of evil.
Local officials want to introduce a by-law allowing the playing of electronic and traditional bingo and other e-games in the region.
Gambling is not illegal in the Philippines and is regulated by an administrative body.
However, some forms of gambling, such as the playing of electronic bingo and certain other e-games, do not fall under the general law and need to be legalized by local governments
Bishop Bendico said all gambling was like drugs in that it hooks a person to do evil by wasting money that was supposed to feed the family.
The moment you start, the more money you need for the habit
“Gambling is just like drugs. You need more and more drugs the moment you begin taking them. The same with gambling. The moment you start, the more money you need for the habit,” Bishop Bendico said in a pastoral letter issued at the weekend.
The Philippines has yet to overcome the challenges brought by the pandemic but some government officials wanted to “perpetuate another form of evil.”
“While people are anxious and downcast due to the crisis brought about by Covid-19, we are being faced with more degrading and troublesome news about of our councilors [wanting] to have bingo stalls in our locality,” he said.
The diocese will oppose any form of gambling, he added.
Baguio City officials said on the local government website that introducing online gaming “does not go against national laws and would be strictly regulated.”
They also said gambling online would protect gamers from possible Covid infection.
Bishop Bendico, however, said the presence of gambling in any form in Baguio City and the province would disturb peace and order.
“We cannot be proud to say that Baguio is a peaceful city if there is havoc in many families due to gambling activities if approved by people who were elected to take care of the common good of the populace,” he said.