BAGUIO CITY – Anti-bingo sentiments pervaded the scene during the public hearing on the proposed rescission of the measures that gave the city’s consent to the operation of electronic bingo outlets held last July 26 at City Hall.
Fr. Manuel Flores of the social action center of the Diocese of Baguio led the religious groups in supporting Councilor Mylen Yaranon’s proposed resolution rescinding Resolutions No. 176 and 176-A series of 2017 which interposed no objection to the operation of e-bingo games at SM Baguio, Baguio Center Mall and Albergo Hotel.
Fr. Flores denounced the city council’s disregard of the people’s earlier appeal for the city to stop the operation of the existing bingo joints and to disapprove new applications and threatened to initiate a signature campaign or people’s initiative to make it happen.
“Since our plea has fallen into deaf ears, I suggest that we just make our own resolution or initiative so it will become an action of the people,” he said.
Flores read a statement signed by concerned citizens lamenting the city council’s approval of Resolution No. 176 and appealing for consideration of their opposition to e-bingo and other forms of gambling.
“Legalizing gambling will not make it morally right. It is and will always be against our morals – our morals which we are doing our best to uphold and hopefully preserve for the future generation,” the statement reads.
Former councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda brought up legal and procedural flaws in the city council’s approval of bingo.
She said the locations of the bingo operations do not comply with the distance requirement of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and the zoning ordinance of the city.
She said the most “objectionable part” was that Resolution 176 included a provision approving the operation of not only e-bingo but also “other games” which Tabanda said is dangerous as it meant allowing the operation of other forms of gambling like poker and casinos.
Tabanda also said the measure was approved under “suspicious” circumstances detailing how it was approved posthaste without discussion or consultation.
She also questioned the unverified identities of the proponents and the companies they represent.
Gerry Beltran, manager of Albergo Hotel which is one of the proposed e-bingo sites, clarified that the hotel management has declined the proposal to house the operation.
The anti-bingo stand was echoed by the other speakers one of whom a former bingo player who got hooked and eventually lost his fortune to gambling.
Brookside barangay kagawad Johnny Mangayan expressed agreement to bingo operations as long as proceeds will go to helping the needy particularly those afflicted by dengue fever and kidney patients undergoing dialysis.
Councilors Yaranon, Peter Fianza and Elaine Sembrano said the inputs gathered from the hearing will be collated and submitted to the committee of the whole before the body will decide on the proposed rescission of Res. 176.
Yaranon’s proposed resolution seeks to rescind the approval of Resolution No. 176 and 176-A series of 2017 approved last May interposing no objection to the requests of Bingo Palace Corporation to maintain and operate a traditional bingo and e-bingo at Albergo Hotel at Villamor Drive, Highland Gaming Corporation to operate traditional and e-bingo at SM City Baguio and Highland Bingo at the Baguio Center Mall along Magsaysay Avenue here.
Last April, religious groups asked the aldermen to consider their appeal for the body to refrain from issuing the documents being required by the PAGCOR to put a stop the e-bingo operations in the city.
They said e-bingo and other forms of gambling in the city corrupts and degrades its citizens and the city itself which “has always consistently maintained a character of being an anti-gambling city.”
The group has in the past been at the forefront of the successful campaigns against casino and lotto, bingo and even STL which was then at its birthing stage./Aileen P. Refuerzo