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Philippines

Philippine bishops condemn casino plans for Boracay

Prelates claim a move to allow gambling will shift tourists' attention from the island's natural beauty to immorality

Philippine bishops condemn casino plans for Boracay

Tourists visit a beach on the Philippine island of Boracay. (Photo:AFP)

A group of Catholic bishops in the Philippines have lent their support to growing opposition to several planned casinos on the resort island of Boracay, calling them “destroyers of values.”

In a strongly worded statement issued on Oct. 4, seven bishops and a diocesan administrator said the casinos threaten family values and the simple lifestyle of Catholics in the region.

Among the signatories were Archbishop Jose Romeo Lazo of Jaro, Bishop Marvyn Maceda of San Jose de Antique and Bishop Patricio Buzon of Bacolod.

“Casinos on Boracay will not only divert and distract visitors from the true beauty and value of this most cherished island but will also pave the way for destructive lifestyles and habits," the prelates said.  

"This will significantly alter and destroy the treasured values, culture and life of the community. Needless to ask, how many individuals and families have been destroyed because of gambling?”

Boracay island is a world-famous tourist destination attracting almost 2 million visitors per year.

As a church, we are not against development but it should be a development that is both sustainable and integral

In August, President Rodrigo Duterte lifted a moratorium on casino operations on the holiday island to generate taxes to pay for the government’s Covid-19 pandemic response.

“Over the years, there have been numerous studies and findings that established the fact that gambling problems can have a significant impact and harm on families, friends, workplaces and communities … impaired family relationships … crime … and financial hardship … and suicide,” the bishops said.

“Gambling statistics further show that families in which at least one parent gambles compulsively are more likely to experience domestic violence, including child abuse. Over 80 percent of problem gamblers were at risk of alcohol or drug use/dependency and half of compulsive gamblers commit crimes.” 

The bishops also urged Catholics not to be blinded by the tax revenue the government might generate through the casinos but by the importance of values and family life. The harm and risk factors far outweigh expected benefits, they said.

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“As a church, we are not against development but it should be a development that is both sustainable and integral, a development that is authentically just and for the common good,” the prelates added.

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