MONEY LAUNDERING IN THE GAMBLING REPUBLIC

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Money-laundering is what allows criminal syndicates to thrive, and to perpetrate their criminality. Money-laundering keeps the life-blood of terrorist groups, domestic and international, flowing, and it bears the detestable fruit of murder, brigandage, pillage and wantonness. This is the reason that the Philippines joined the rest of the world in enacting tough legislative measures against money-laundering.

National Shame

Alas, our country figured prominently in a recently reported heist involving what was reported to be $81 million stolen from Bangladesh. From Bangladesh, this astoundingly huge amount supposedly went into one of our commercial banks in the Philippines, and from there, to a local money-transfer firm, and then into the casinos. Senate has commenced an investigation into the matter, and we are only now starting to see how wide the reach of this form of criminality and arrant immorality is.

No one pulls off a criminal stunt like this alone. So it is that the dramatis personae in this sad story of loot and theft are many including cyber-criminals, colluding bank executives, probably even government officials and public servants.

The amendment to the law that different sectors press for diverts attention from the real problem: Enforcement, public vigilance and the moral bankruptcy that underlies all forms of criminality, disorder and immoral conduct.

Government Sanctioned Gambling Increased!

Casinos of course can be avenues of money-laundering, and it is just not possible to include within legislation whatever means criminals, in their ingenuity, may make use of to make proceeds of criminal activity take on the appearance of legitimate currency and earnings!

But we decry casinos more as a symbol of the reckless abandon with which many live their lives. It is common knowledge that fortunes have been lost, families have been wrecked, futures shattered at casino tables — and yet, they continue to thrive, government sanctions them and their operators and owners continue to enrich themselves.

Many countries of the world have made online betting illegal, criminal even, but in the Philippines, this detestable activity continues. Many foreigners make their way into our country in behalf of foreign principals, not for trade, nor to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life, but to place online bets and indulge in the varied forms that online gambling takes!

Repeatedly, large-scale, organized gambling has been linked to organized crime. And while we are not prepared to say that all gambling in the Philippines is crime-related, we are alarmed at the seeming lukewarmness on the part of government and civil society at dealing with these forms of high-stakes, high-risk gambling.

Gambling Corrodes Our Moral Fiber

We likewise reiterate the moral teaching that gambling’s malice consists in the desire of the gambler to profit, if possible immensely and quickly, without making any corresponding contribution to society in terms of industry, investment and the creation of job-opportunities. Gambling also runs counter to the providence by which every person ought to provide diligently and prudently for himself and for his family, for it leaves to the flipping of dice, the spinning of wheels or the fortuity of cards what can and must be earned through diligence, creativity, application and toil.

In each diocese then, the Bishops will vigilantly monitor gambling activities, promptly report to authorities the operation of illegal gambling outlets, and constantly educate the faithful on the immorality of gambling in whatever form, taking special care to keep the youth farthest away from this vice.

In the Risen Lord, we know we can prevail!

From the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, March 28, 2016

+ SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan
President, CBCP

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