A multi-sectoral group led by the Church is mounting a strong stand to block the opening of a casino in the province.
A strongly worded manifesto was released yesterday by the core group which convened Thursday evening at the Bishop’s Palace.
The protest is a preemptive stand against the establishment of casinos amid the projected economic boom following the recent opening of the new Bohol Panglao International Airport (BPIA).
Bishop Alberto Uy and Bishop Patrick Daniel Parcon of the Diocese of Tagbilarn and Diocese of Talibon, respectively supported the call of the private sector as they led the signatories of the manifesto that is expected to generate more support from both the government and private sectors.
The private sector is behind the protest with the Provincial Tourism Council (PTC) and the Bohol Association of Hotels, Resorts and Restaurants (BAHRR) as among the members of the core group. PTC Chairman Lucas Nunag and BAHRR President Allen Varquez signed the manifesto which will be sent shortly to national government agencies governing the opening of casinos in the country.
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan is slated to further discuss the stand to block casinos after the move was already echoed during last Friday’s session by Board Member Alexi Tutor, chair of the SP committee on tourism.
In the signed manifesto appearing elsewhere in this issue of the Chronicle, the oppositors said “casinos breed gambling addicts and addiction brings undesirable consequences such as theft, swindling and other crimes against property, not to mention drugs and prostitution.
Likewise, it was stressed that if casinos will open here, it will be a major diversion from what Bohol has projected as a prime eco-cultural tourist destination.
This positioning of Bohol, according to PTC Chair Nunag has placed the province with its “unique natural beauty and rich religious and cultural heritage” as an asset that has to be sustained.
Opening casinos in Bohol will tarnish Bohol’s image as a “wholesome” family destination.
“Thailand, the most successful destination in the ASEAN, has outlawed casinos. There are also no casinos in Mainland China, Japan, and Taiwan. Yet, these countries have a flourishing tourism industry,” it said.
It was also noted in the manifesto that a casino has the potential of being a significant tourism draw but this would go against the values of the predominantly Catholic province which is home to centuries-old churches and 18 bishops and a slew of clergymen deployed in various areas in the country and abroad.
“While casinos could be a major tourism draw that will bring in many tourists, they will certainly threaten the very image that Bohol has so carefully and painstakingly developed and nurtured—that of being a wholesome, family-friendly eco-cultural tourist destination,” it added.
In the same statement released by the multi-sectoral group, it was highlighted that casinos could also lead to environmental degradation.
“Casinos will not contribute to our goal of keeping our tourism responsible, inclusive and sustainable. We have enough natural and cultural attractions, a wealth of capable, hospitable manpower resource as well as much-improved infrastructure that enable us to achieve our tourism goal,” the statement concluded.