THE city council shall have power by ordinance or resolution based (c) to make such further ordinances and regulations not repugnant to law as may be necessary to carry into effect and discharge the powers and duties conferred by this charter and such as shall seem necessary and proper to provide for the health and safety, promote the prosperity, improve the morals, peace, good, order, comfort, and convenience of the city and the inhabitants thereof, and for the protection of property therein; and enforce obedience thereto with such lawful fines or penalties as the city council may prescribe... (Sec. 8 of the Baguio Incorporation Act.)

Last year, Benguet intensifieD its Anti-Gambling laws but Baguio opened its doors for the gambling population. The Council has approved resolutions which the Mayor has withheld by asking clarifications from PAGCOR and denying renewal of Mayor’s permits. But again this year, the council has continued to support a change in making Baguio the Gambling Den of the Region.

For ages, it has been the civil society, the general public and the churches which stood firm in fighting for an “Anti-Gambling character city of Baguio” A character gained through decades of people’s vigilance and action, even before Baguio was declared a Character City.

How insensitive, shameless and brazen then is the move of the city council through the suspension of rules pass a resolution approving more E Bingo in the City right in the middle of the Market, right along the path of school children and everyone who has a purpose in being in the center of the city. I cannot even say heart of the city, for the heart of the city is being eroded by leaders we have chosen to lead us to the right but are leading us into our own destruction.

How greedy is the owner and investor of these establishments of sucking the food away from babies and families, for instead of food and sustenance family funds are spent on gambling. How unprofessional are the licensing officers of issuing licenses when they are expected by our community to promote wellbeing of our people.

Stupidity is a word that comes when people start saying that it is a “matter of choice” for we know that if the choice was not offered then there is no choice at all. Choosing to gamble instead of buying meat for the table, choosing to gamble instead of providing “baon” for the school children, choosing to gamble instead of going home early to spend quality time with the family, choosing to gamble instead of paying your bills or tuition fee. How can we say it is a matter of choice when our people sacrifice work, school or church and instead spend time in E Bingo or Bingo sa Barangay in Lower Magsaysay Barangay, Hilltop or Sto Nino Barangay. The people in the Barangays will not go to the Bingo if there were no Bingo at all. Similarly, if there is no E Bingo in Baguio then there is no choice to talk about. They can go to other places and Baguio retains its “Anti-Gambling City” character.

It is imperative then that the general population should stand firm in fighting the powers wielded in City Hall. Power they can use to rule over us or to serve us. Powers we gave to them because we elected them, but powers we can influence for they must answer to us. We are a people of power for government rest in us if we choose to exercise this. We are a people of conviction because it is the commitment we get from a faithful God, even in our faithlessness. We must move and we must open our mouth for blessed are the meek for they will inherit this earth. We will try one more time to awaken a city that is guided by a city council and the city departments for “health and safety, promote the prosperity, improve the morals, peace, good, order, comfort, and convenience of the city and the inhabitants thereof, and for the protection of property.”

How can our leaders stand up when gambling robs the prosperity, corrodes morals, create fighting instead of peace in the family (especially when they lose and are hot headed) and takes away comforts and convenience of our people? Gambling of any form tempts anyone.

Gambling muddles the mind, corrupts government officials and employees, making police inept. Unfortunately, some people are tempted to divert from the good to evil, throw away morality and join the bandwagon, forgo good governance and embraces partiality and self-aggrandizement, make honest businessmen to greedy businesses and it can go on.

I am just sounding the alarm, let the clanging cymbals and the lions roar.