Friday, April 18, 2008

“eradicate gambling: it is a moral and social cancer”

The is the title of the Pastoral Statement officially issued by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines on 10 March 2003. The title itself cannot be more specific and categorical, more plain and clear than what it says: One, that gambling has to be not simply regulated but actually extirpated from this long impoverished and depressing Country. Two, that gambling is a fatal decease that first attacks and eventually finishes off the gambler. Three, that gambling has not only an anti-social impact whereas it foments avarice and greed, but also brings about immoral actuations such as lying, cheating and stealing.

It would be extremely hard if not morally impossible to name a truly honorable and respectable, really upright and trustworthy gambler. The truth is that just as known habitual gamblers are not really proud of what they do, professional gamblers even prefer to carefully hide their identity. This is why just as jueteng operators and their close associates stay in secret or unknown places, casino players prefer to enter and exit casinos in the darkness of the night. In other words, either illegal or the so called “legal” gambling is not exactly a venture accompanied with pride and delight. In the same way, gamblers are not good examples for the admiration and edification of others—their own children and neighbors as well.

This is what CBCP categorically said to inculcate the social liability and more evil of gambling: “It has become an insidious subculture of immense corruption that involves shadowy network of powerful financiers, protectors and lords.” This is the objective composite liability of gambling. Insidious is its nature and corruption is its specialty. Those who even dare to claim that gambling is ennobling and honest is its origin and/or finality, must belong to another planet, must pertain to another race other than human one.

The mere mention of the word “corruption” brings to mind a good number of vivid and vibrant shameful realities in the Philippines: The country has been adjudged as one of the “Most Corrupt” in the world. Its own leadership also received the inglorious title of the “Most Corrupt” in the history of the Nation. The ruling administration is deeply immersed in graph and corrupt practices through devious contracts and scandalous deals. In effect, even the CBCP Leadership said with deep pain and profound sorrow that the present government is “morally bankrupt.” And it is rather difficult to even imagine that PCSO gambling components and PAGCOR casinos are paragons of honesty and integrity—specially in the enviable perks of its high officials, and particularly in the disbursements of the public funds avidly and continuously taken away from their respective gambling patrons.

Considering what gambling is in nature and implications, attending to its odious impact in the community, to the youth in particular, knowing that it is neither frequented by exactly exemplary people be these Filipinos or foreigners nor protected by ordinary individuals but rather by shadowy and threatening characters, the CBCP conclusion is both obvious and imperative: GAMBLING IN THE COUNTRY MUST BE ERADICATED.

18 April 2008