RELIGIOUS groups asked the Baguio City Council to stop the operation of electronic bingo (e-bingo) outlets in the city.
Fr. Manuel Flores, representing the concerned citizens who signed the petition against the e-bingo last Monday, April 24, asked the aldermen to consider their appeal for the body to refrain from issuing the documents being required by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) to put a stop the e-bingo operations in the city.
Fr. Flores submitted to the body copies of the petition letter from nine parishes of the Diocese of Baguio signed by pastoral council members and parishioners. The concern has been referred to the City Council committee on laws, human rights and justice under Councilor Faustino Olowan for consideration and recommendation.
In the letter, the petitioners asked the City Council not to grant permit to the e-bingo application in Maharlika Livelihood Center and not to renew the existing permits of existing outlets in SM Baguio, Baguio Center Mall and Centerpoint Plaza in Bakakeng Central.
The groups said the City Council can prevent the Maharlika operation by approving a resolution of objection to the operation. Pagcor requires a letter of no objection from the local governments before allowing bingo joints to operate in a locality. Pagcor representatives in a dialogue with the City Council in 2015 said the e-bingo joints in SM Baguio and Baguio Center Mall were granted licenses in November 2010 on the basis of the business permits granted by the local government.
On that basis, it follows their operations can be stopped if the licenses were not renewed, the petitioners said. Based on Pagcor’s statements, the Center Mall joint’s license should have expired in March 2016, SM outlet’s license last January 2017 while Centerpoint’s, which was granted permit in 2015 will expire this May.
In the letter, the petitioners reiterated their sentiments aired in an appeal submitted by the Baguio-Benguet Ecumencial Group to Mayor Mauricio Domogan last December posing their objection to the operation of e-bingo and other forms of gambling in the city as it corrupts and degrades its citizens and the city itself which “has always consistently maintained a character of being an anti-gambling city.”
According to the petitioners, gambling when available becomes a choice. “It is a choice between betting or using money for food and basic necessities. It is a choice between gambling time as against fruitful time spent with family and friends. It is a choice between believing in chance of becoming an honest earner. We urgently appeal that we do not provide gambling as a choice for our people,” the group added.
In the past, the group has been at the forefront of the successful campaigns against casino and lotto, bingo and even small town lottery, which was then at its birthing stage. (PR) (from Sunstar Baguio)