(A Pastoral Statement on Gambling)

For the past 15 years the Bishops of the Philippines have been denouncing gambling in its various forms, especially jueteng.

Whether it is jueteng or masiao or any other form, gambling as systematic, widespread and illegal is truly a moral and social cancer.

It has become an insidious subculture of immense corruption that involves a shadowy network of powerful financiers, protectors, and lords. It destroys moral values such as industry and hard work, accountability and honesty, integrity and justice. Such gambling is never a moral virtue. It is a moral vice that, because of its systematic rampancy, has become entrenched within the psyche of many and within our social system, corrupting these from within.

With the huge sums that they control without any accountability to anyone but themselves, gambling lords can make or unmake political and professional careers by corrupting law enforcement and political processes and the people that run them. The public testimonies of various people involved in gambling have told us of the incredible territorial and personal coverage of jueteng alone and the vast unimaginable amounts of profits gained, astoundingly far higher than the yearly budgets of many municipalities and cities in the country.

Gambling exploits the poor in a particular way. Fleecing the poor of the little they have, some 85% of gambling profits return to the pockets of gambling operators. With their hard-earned money the poor are daily lured by the easy money that gambling vainly promises. Whatever little recreational value it might have cannot justify the immense suffering inflicted on entire families because of the loss of money needed for the basic necessities.

We, therefore, once again strongly denounce systematic, widespread and illegal gambling in whatever form. We strongly denounce any attempt to legalize it. We once again appeal to our political leaders, lawmakers and law enforcers to put teeth to our anti-gambling laws, ferret outr the gambling lords and their protectors, and punish them with the full force of the law. We encourage and support citizens’ movement, such as Krusadang Bayan Laban sa Jueteng (Jueteng, Free Philippines), to root out gambling from our culture. With the Blessed Virgin Mary, we pray to the Lord that this moral and social cancer of gambling be finally and decisively excised from our culture.

For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:

Archbishop of Cotabato
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

March 10, 2003