CHURCHES and academic institutions expressed their strong opposition to the Limketkai-proposed casino right at Cagayan de Oro’s downtown commercial district, a few steps away from a state university.

During the games and amusement committee hearing on Friday, February 17, stakeholders aired out their concerns on the effects of an organized gambling establishment like a casino.

Monsignor Francisco Salvador, reads the letter which he said, is from the priests and clergy of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro.

Salvador said that the church cannot turn a blind eye to the negative effects of the gambling culture adding that organized and systematic gambling, whether legal or illegal, is not desirable in the society as it "seriously erodes the moral values of the people."

Not only does it prey on the poor, Salvador said, but also it has paved the way to spread in a clandestine form of corruption.

"The Church of Cagayan de Oro stands to, first, denounce illegal gambling in all its forms and prevent its legalization, combat the expansion of organized and systematic gambling such as the putting up of casinos, refrain from soliciting funds from illegal gambling so as not to promote a culture of gambling, and to encourage church institutions to refrain from doing the same even when the objective be with that of the poor," Salvador said.

The Lay Faithful of the Archdiocese also pointed out that the casino "will take more than what it may give for the city."

It added that gambling is an addiction and a disease, just like illegal drugs, and thirdly, contrary to what the Limketkai is saying, gambling will not attract tourists, but "gambling will only attract gamblers."

The United Church of Christ in the Philippines also opposes with the plan, citing that the Christian faith teaches the people that games of chance is highly discouraged as it promotes breeding money without exerting work, therefore dissipates one's strength.

It added in its statement that gambling is a "great factor of breaking up homes and relationships, of happiness."

The Lourdes College showed facts, citing that, according to studies, the poor will likely experience more gambling's adverse effects.

Myrna Fantonalgo, Lourdes College's external affairs coordinator said that its school will always support the stand of the church.

"Also, research have shown that poor people spent higher proportion of their income in gambling and that is why we believe they will be very much affected with this proposal," she said.

The Xavier University (XU)-Ateneo de Cagayan meanwhile questioned the location of the proposed casino, which is just near to an academic institution, the University of Science and Technology in the Southern Philippines.

Nestor Banuag of XU said the location can easily attract students.

"This plan should not be rushed, and we suggest that there should be more consultations before this plan could be approved," he said.

Limketkai has earlier sent a letter to the City Council for its proposed casino project dated January 16, 2017.

The committee on games and amusement headed by City Councilor Zaldy Ocon will schedule another round of public consultation to invite more stakeholders.