ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Preserving the beauty and the population of Boracay: "No" to the spread of gambling

Monday, 4 October 2021 addictions   civil society   turism  

Manila (Agenzia Fides) - The Catholic Church in the Western Visayas region, in the center of the Philippines, calls for the protection of the social, cultural and moral environment of Boracay, a well-known island and tourist resort, by opposing the spread of gambling. "Boracay is a gift from God to Aklan and to the whole world", says a note signed by eight Bishops of the region and sent to Fides. The Bishops lead the Archdioceses of Jaro and Capiz, the dioceses of Bacolod, San Jose de Antique, Romblon, Kabankalan, San Carlos and Kalibo. Msgr. Jose Corazon T. Talaoc, of the Diocese of Kalibo explains: "Boracay is a paradise: a destination for families, a place for educational progress and the development of entrepreneurship, it is a place that offers broad avenues for development and employment guarantees a good source of income for the people and also a good source of tax revenue for the government".
Boracay Island, part of Aklan Province in the Western Visayas region, is appreciated for its white sand, crystal clear waters, abundant flora and fauna and diverse marine life, making it one of the most attractive destinations of vacation in the world.
"We appreciate our government's efforts to restore Boracay Island's God-given natural wonders that make it famous at home and abroad. We appeal to public leaders to listen to the people's request to keep Boracay a clean, safe island, suitable for children and families, to visit in order to spend precious time with loved ones", write the Bishops.
The question raised is that of the possible spread of gambling and the construction of casinos in Boracay: this phenomenon, the Prelates noted, will not only distract visitors from the true beauty and value of this most beloved island, but "will also open the way to destructive lifestyles and habits, which will significantly alter and destroy the values, culture and life of the local community".
Over the years - the Bishops recall - numerous studies conducted in different areas of the country have found that the problems of gambling negatively affect families, friends, workplaces and communities. Among the phenomena found, there are damages to emotional, mental and physical health such as: interruption of communication and confusion on family roles and responsibilities; compromised family relationships; sense of distrust, family neglect; poor performance and work with consequent loss of productivity; spread of crime (such as theft and fraud); growth of financial hardship, even bankruptcy; increase of people marked by depression and suicides. Gambling statistics also show that families in which a parent compulsively gambles are more likely to experience domestic violence, including child abuse. Over 80% of problematic gamblers are at risk of alcohol or drug addiction, and half of compulsive gamblers commit crimes. "We want to discourage gambling to prevent these problems from occurring", Church leaders say. "On the one hand we understand the government's need to increase its revenues especially during the pandemic, but the damage and risk factors far outweigh the expected benefits if one thinks of the social impact that the opening of casinos in Boracay would have. "This phenomenon will have a strong negative impact on local communities, especially the indigenous community of the island", warn the Bishops.
According to the teachings of the Church, gambling becomes morally unacceptable when it deprives "someone of what is necessary to provide for their own needs and those of others". "As a Church - we note - we are not against development, as long as it is a sustainable and integral development, an authentically just development aimed at the common good", remarking, in conclusion, a completely negative opinion on the building of casinos. "No to gambling in Boracay", concludes the appeal of the Bishops.
With a total area of 10 sq km and about 32 thousand inhabitants, Boracay has been known for years to be among the most popular destinations for international tourism. In 2014, the island was at the top of the "Best Islands in the World" list published by the international magazine Condè Nast "Traveler". (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 4/10/2021)