Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Memorandum Circular No. 828 August 2001

Government personnel—officials, employees and workers—are expressly and formally forbidden not only to gamble but even to enter casinos. This norm is plain and simple. The rule is not only logical but also moral. And as usual, no gambler all over the land from all sectors of society even bother to know the norm, much less to observe the rule.

Once there was a famous political figure apparently caught by a camera while happily gambling in a casino. This caused a lot of public outcry and commotion such that someone apparently responsible for the leakage of the film seemed to have completely disappeared, and apparently still remain missing to date. There was also the reported rather brutal killing of a known personality in the movie industry—a murder which some people claimed was linked to the possession of one too many “i.o.u” slips signed by a certain big casino patron in authority, and which allegedly amounted to a sum too big to pay back. Solution: Kill the person concerned and destroy all the slips. Recently, likewise against the said Memorandum Circular, a Comelec official was said to have been entering and exiting a Casino when he was gunned down dead still.

All the above shameful and pitiful casino related episode, in no way include the miserable and impoverished gambling addicts who continue to grow in number—courtesy of the Philippine Amusing Gambling Corporation (PAGCOR). Gambling addicts first manipulate and then already steal not only government or company funds, but also gamble away family resources. Lastly, they incur one big debt after another—and thereafter simply go to rehabilitation center or simply vanish away from circulation.

Thus gambling does the following: Individuals are destroyed in finances and reputation. Families are sadly broken. Children are left bitter. Homes are ruined. There are also the guns and goons who are usually in or around casinos. This is not to mention the loan sharks that are ready with cash loans to losing gamblers with and interest at least 20% daily.

If gambling is an innocent if not a various venture, why is it that even the government banns its personnel from frequent them? If gambling is such a good if not prestigious activity, why is it that casinos are dark inside, gamblers surreptitiously enter and exit them? If gambling is an honorable activity why it is that to be called a “gambler” is a title of shame?

This is why notwithstanding all window dressing PAGCOR does with its gambling profession, this does not fly. Helping the poor, giving medicines, putting light posts, etc. etc.—all these cannot and do not erase the stigma of the gambling industry perpetrated by this government. For record purposes, the present government does not only stop illegal gambling practically all over the land. It also promotes legal gambling in the country by putting up casinos wherever it can. Lately, it is building a multi-billion “a la Las Vegas” gambling city in Metro Manila itself. Who says that this government is not morally bankrupt? Who says that Malacañang is occupied by saints?

April 9 2008