08/29/2009, 00.00
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Bishop against casinos: no help to economy, harms society

by Santosh Digal
Bishop Lucilius Quiambao protests against the project for a giant shopping mall in Albay, south of Manila, which includes a casino. It will cost over 250 million euros and aims to attract tourists to the area. For the bishop it will "destroy the moral fiber of our community."
Legazpi City (AsiaNews) - Mgr Lucilius Quiambao, Bishop of Legazpi, has taken a lead in protesting against the construction of a big shopping complex in Albay, south of Manila. The bishop was compelled to lodge an official protest at the news that a casino is part of construction plans and that the total cost of the complex will amount to 1.8 billion Pesos, equivalent to more than 250 million Euros.
Bishop Quiambao addressed to the mayor of Legazpi, Noel Rosal, and the various parties that govern the city. "Gambling - says the bishop - is not the solution to our economic problems. We are in favor of progress, but we must obtain it with concrete actions and not by destroying the moral fiber of our community. "  
The complex is the brain child of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR), (a state-owned company that operates the casino in the country), who wants to develop in the area of Albay structures capable of attracting more tourism. The PAGCOR says the new shopping complex will offer new jobs to the inhabitants of the province and has already secured the support of  the Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Albay and the city of Legazpi.
In the Philippines, legal gambling is a growing market and an important source of revenue for the state. In 2008 the revenue generated by online gambling alone amounted to 6.11 million dollars against 4.74 million the previous year.  
The bishop believes that the possible benefits for the local the economy can not be compared to the damage, particularly gambling, it may provoke to the social fabric. Msgr. Quiambao is mainly concerned about the impact that gambling can have on ordinary people. The lure of easy money combined with Bahala na, fatalism characteristic of Filipino culture, may end up pushing many people to squander money and time.  
The Philippine Church and some national politicians have repeatedly criticized the huge investments insured by the government for the construction of casinos and increasing gambling online. They want to devote at least some of those funds for the development of industries which, while less profitable in the short term, however, provide stable jobs and guaranteed wages for the people of lower social groups.
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