Cagayan de Oro Archdiocese hits opening of casino in MisOr

CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 30 December) – The Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro is up in arms against a casino that has opened in the neighboring municipality of Opol, Misamis Oriental.

Archbishop Jose Cabantan (center) walks with Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Emeritus Antonio Ledesma. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

In a pastoral letter, Archbishop Jose Cabantan decried the opening of a casino in Barangay Taboc, Opol town along the Cagayan de Oro-Iligan highway.

Whatever “economic development or revenues” the casino may bring could not be justified as it would lead to the breakup of families, Cabantan said.

He said the casino would just create a culture of gambling and “breed a network of corruption that feeds itself” to the detriment of taxpayers and the poor.

He said the people need better laws, not gambling in the casino, to uplift their economic lives.

“Gambling is addictive. We oppose the operation of a gambling casino even if it’s legal and much more it is clandestinely constructed in the archdiocese,” Cabantan said.

The Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro covers the provinces of Misamis Oriental and Camiguin as well as the cities of El Salvador, Gingoog and Cagayan  de Oro.

Opol town Mayor Max Seno told a local radio station that he and the municipal council approved the operation of the casino owned by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

“We were caught by surprise. We will vigorously oppose its operation and would even resort to picketing its entrances,” Monsignor Rey Monsanto, a staunch anti-gambling leader, said.

Monsanto said they came to know of the operation of the casino only after Fr. Joel Oga, parish priest of Opol, informed the archdiocese.

He said Archbishop Cabantan had called the priests to a meeting to discuss what actions they would take against the casino.

“I don’t discount the possibility of mobilizing mass actions to stop the operation of the casino. We can lie down at the entrance to stop any of their clients from going inside,” Monsanto said.

This is not the first time the archdiocese battled PAGCOR’S attempts to open a casino in Cagayan de Oro.

On June 15, 1993, the archdiocese led by the late Archbishop Jesus Tuquib blocked the opening of a casino in the city by holding protest actions at its entrance for a month.

The protest actions convinced former president Fidel Ramos to order PAGCOR to stop the casino operations.

In 2017, Archbishop Emeritus Antonio Ledesma led the archdiocese in stopping another attempt to open a casino in Cagayan de Oro. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)