Church, university hold anti-casino forum

A FORMER casino worker spoke at a forum organized by the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro and Xavier University Tuesday, February 28, and urged Kagay-anons to do all they can to stop the establishment of a casino in the city.

"The government has a lot of resources, you don't need a casino," Rod Llacera, a former supervisor of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor)-owned casino, said.

Llacera said he worked in a casino for almost 20 years and said income you collect in the casino cannot compensate for the moral degradation you develop.

"I'm not throwing mud into the well that gave me water, I admit working in a casino has helped me a lot, it financed the education of my kids. But many people became miserable, not because of the casino, per se, but because the greed and addiction it can cause," Llacera said.

He related a story about how a girl, who only used to accompany her grandmother to the casino, later on became addicted to the games of chance, when she was handed by her grandmother a money to bet on a game called "blackjack" to kill time while waiting.

Llacera said after that night, the girl came back to the casino even without her grandmother and placed bets on bigger games.

"Pila ka months, nagka-anam ug kawala iyang mga alahas, until niabot ang time nga dili na alahas iyang gi-bet, kundi ang iyang lawas na (Months passed and the girl started selling her jewelry to support her gambling habit. She ended up selling her body),” Llacera said.

He said his involvement with the community was the pill that he needed to take to wake up, he said.

"I resigned last 2007, after almost 20 years working in the casino, involvement with my community, probably it was the pill that I need to take to wake up, that no matter how I rationalize that I just work here, I was part of the system," he said.

"Meron bang benefit ang city na magkaroon ng casino? Glamor daw. But what glamor is there kung hiwa-hiwalay na ang mga pamilya? (Can the city benefit from a casino? They said it's glamor. But what glamor is there if families are fall apart?)" he added.

In the Archdiocese's pastoral letter, Archbishop Antonio Ledesma pointed out that the games of chance promote immorality and enslaves the poor.

"We cannot be blind of the casino's negative effects in our community, in our people, to our youth, families, and especially to the poor who only earns enough to sustain their basic needs," he said.

Ledesma also raised the question "for whom are the casinos?"

Xavier University's Nestor Banuag said Tuesday's forum was just the start of a series of fora to discuss the effects of casinos.

This is the second time that the Limketkai company is attempting to build a casino in the city.

Civic leader Tito Mora said a similar effort was undertaken in 2001.
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