Boracay Island

Bishops join voices opposing Boracay casino

Jun Aguirre
Bishops join voices opposing Boracay casino

WORLD-FAMOUS ISLAND. An aerial view of Boracay Island, Philippines.

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'While we understand the urgent need of government to raise its revenue especially during this pandemic, the harm and risk factors far outweigh the expected benefits,' the bishops say

Six  bishops and a diocesan administrator on Monday, October 4, added their voices to the opposition to plans to operate casino in world-famous Boracay Island.

“Boracay is God’s gift to Aklan and to the whole world,” said the statement signed by Kalibo Bishop Jose Corazon Talaoc, Jaro Archbishop Jose Romeo Lazo, San Jose de Antique Bishop Marvyn Maceda, Bacolod Bishop Patricio Buzon, San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, Romblon Bishop Narciso Abellana, and Capiz Diocesan Administrator Monsignor Cyril Villareal.

Citing the island’s fine white sand, blue waters, flora and fauna, and diverse marine life, the prelates said national and local officials should heed the public clamor to keep Boracay – a top global tourist destination – “clean, safe, child– and family-friendly.”

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The bishops warned of the negative impact of gambling on families, workplaces, and communities.

Addiction to gambling, the bishops said, can erode emotional, mental, and physical health; cause communication breakdown and confusion about family roles and responsibilities, and fuel mistrust due to poor work performance or lost productivity.

“Families where a parent gambles compulsively are more likely to experience domestic violence, including child abuse. Over 80% of problem gamblers were at risk for alcohol or drug use/dependency and one half of compulsive gamblers commit crimes,” the bishops said. 

“While we understand the urgent need of government to raise its revenue especially during this pandemic, the harm and risk factors far outweigh the expected benefits if we conduct the social impact assessment of opening gambling casinos in Boracay that should necessarily involve the affected communities, particularly the community of indigenous people on the island,” they added.

Opposition to casino operations in Boracay have also snowballed on social media.

Flip-flop

In August, Malacañang announced that Duterte allowed a casino to operate in Boracay to raise revenues. This is after he ended his three-year ban on the issuance new casino licenses.

Malacañang did not name the establishment covered by Duterte’s order but iin 2018, the government had issued a cease and desist order to stop the casino of Alpha Allied Holdings Limited operating in Movenpick Boracay. Pagcor also suspended at the time the license of Macau-based Galaxy Entertainment Group, whose local partner, Leisure & Resorts World Corporation, had already purchased land in Boracay.

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Following the President’s announcement in August, the Alliance Global Group had said that it would proceed with its casino project in Boracay Newcoast.

In 2017, the Sanguniang Bayan of Malay declared a 15-year moratorium on endorsements for the operation of casinos, gaming junkets, legal gambling activities, and other gaming operations sanctioned by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) and the Games and Amusement Board (GAB) both in Boracay and mainland Malay.

Malay Mayor Floribar Bautista had said in August that the moratorium “is yet to be lifted by the Sanguniang Bayan but I know Pagcor has lifted its own version of the moratorium based on the announcement of the President.”

Residents in Boracay who requested anonymity said that the casino site in Boracay spanned the sitios of Tulubhan and Tambisaan in Barangay Manoc-Manoc. This area only had a few business and residential structures left. – Rappler.com