A campaign against gambling recently launched by a Catholic diocese in the southern Philippines is proving a success after a mayor pledged to remove lottery booths in his city.
Marbel Diocese is conducting its campaign against gambling not only from the pulpit, but also among Christian communities.
The move comes after financiers set up lottery kiosks around the city of Koronadal and nearby towns.
“As a diocese, our stand is no to gambling,” said Father Ariel Destora, director of the diocese’s Social Action Center.
He said local church leaders have called on Basic Christian Communities “to actively oppose” small town lottery operations in their localities.
The priest noted that yellow lotto kiosks have mushroomed around the city and neighboring towns in recent weeks.
“When people in the community say no to gambling, it makes a difference. That way, they are empowering themselves and their communities,” said Father Destora.
Small town lotteries are legal state operations licensed by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. They started in 2005 as part of a government drive to eradicate an illegal numbers game called “jueteng.”
Father Destora, however, said gambling promotes a culture of “misplaced priorities and leaving things to fate.”
“Instead of buying food for their family, some gamble their remaining money in the hope of winning even if the possibility is very remote,” said the priest.
He said gambling also causes addiction, which could “ruin the fabric of family values.”
Father Destora said parish priests have a big role to play in the fight against gambling because they are the directly involved with Christian communities.
Koronadal mayor, Peter Miguel, has sided with the church and said he will not allow small town lotteries to operate in the city.
Miguel said he already instructed a team to dismantle the kiosks in the city’s 27 villages, saying that the lottery “cannot eradicate illegal gambling that we are also fighting.”
As of Sept. 28, the Philippines “Ultra Lotto” was expected to break prize money records as the jackpot was expected to hit US$14 million in the next draw.