Western Visayas’ Catholic leaders have joined the growing criticism of the plan to operate casino in Boracay Island recently.

In a statement, the region’s seven bishops and a diocesan administrator warned that the social costs of gambling outweigh the potential benefits.

“While we understand the urgent need of the government to raise its revenue, especially during this pandemic, the harm and risk factors far outweigh the expected benefits,” they said.

The church officials raised concern on the impact of casinos on the affected communities, particularly the indigenous peoples on the island.

They said that having casinos in Boracay will not only “distract” visitors from the true beauty of the island “but will also pave the way for destructive lifestyles and habits that will significantly alter and destroy the treasured values, culture and life of the community.”

The collegial statement came two weeks after Bishop Jose Corazon Tala-oc of Kalibo rallied his flock to oppose casinos “that will destroy our cherished land.”

Besides Tala-oc, other signatories of the statement are Archbishop Jose Lazo of Jaro, Bishops Marvyn Maceda of Antique, Patricio Buzon of Bacolod, Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos, Louie Galbines of Kabankalan, Narciso Abellana of Romblon, and Msgr. Cyril Villareal, administrator of Capiz.

“As 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,” they added.

Patricia Julianne M. Escaño/CBCP News

Image courtesy of Lyn Resurreccion

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