An influential church-led lobby is increasing its ante to block the opening of a casino at the former American rest-and-recreation facility Camp John Hay.
BY ACE ALEGRE
Posted by Bulatlat
BAGUIO CITY (246 kms north of Manila) – An influential church-led lobby is increasing its ante to block the opening of a casino at the former American rest-and-recreation facility Camp John Hay.
On March 23, Roman Catholic Bishop Carlito Cenzon of the Baguio Vicariate, together with church leaders from the United Church of Christ of the Philippines-Northern Luzon Jurisdiction and the laity-formed multisectoral group (MSG) trooped to the Baguio City Council to press local officials to join them in the fight versus a huge gambling complex .
Last year, an agreement between the state-controlled Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) and the private-run Camp John Hay Development Corporation (CJHDevCo) to build a casino was forged.
On July 1, 2008, a “Casino Cooperation Agreement” was signed by BCDA president and CEO, retired Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Narciso Abaya, and CJHDevCo chairman and CEO Robert John Sobrepeña and its president Ferdinand Santos.
Earlier, the BCDA and CJHDevCo refused to confirm any plan for a casino though the latter conceded a “bingo gaming complex” has applied.
In yet another resolution by the church led lobby group MSG, Cenzon and other church leaders insist a casino at John Hay violates the 19 conditions set forth by the Baguio City government when the former American facility was leased to developer CJHDevCo in 1991. Any casino operation, it said, not only violates conditions of the lease agreement, but also insults local initiatives against all forms of gambling in the city.
CJHDevCo officials could not be reached for comment. Meanwhile, Mayor Reinaldo Bautista has publicly claimed he did not know about the agreement.
“The people of Baguio will not allow this,” claimed lawyer Alexander Bangsoy, speaking in behalf of the MSG. “Gambling is a pathological disease,” their manifesto read. “It has a spell on the people that makes them gamble away even money for basic necessities and education of their children,” they said.
In the 70s, a casino used to operate at the Pines Hotel at Luneta Hill. Church leaders said many small and medium entrepreneurs gambled away their capital and became bankrupt.
Baguio City, the MSG said, will lost its image as “educational center of the North” as gambling poses a threat to the youth’s well-being. It is likely that a casino operation will breed more crimes in the city, the manifesto said. (Posted by Bulatlat)