By: Alex P. Vidal
“Gambling can turn into a dangerous two-way street when you least expect it. Weird things happen suddenly, and your life can go all to pieces.” – Hunter S. Thompson
NONE of our Ilonggo legislators were among the contenders for major posts when the administration lap puppies led by recently installed House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano divided the “kingdoms” of the House of Representatives the way the generals of Alexander the Great divided his kingdoms after his death.
Even in the scandalous “term-sharing” agreement, Cayetano and his fellow eager-beaver solons who desire power and positions in the Lower House like David desired Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, limited the choices for themselves alone.
Because they eat alone, time will come they will also fight alone.
For the meantime, even if they don’t hold key positions in the hierarchy of the House of Representatives, the Ilonggo congresspeople, all age below 50, will see to it that they will abscond or avoid any membership in the committee on silence.
Let’s watch them as they trail-blaze their way to quality legislation.
If the gaming operations of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) weren’t ordered temporarily suspended (only lotto has been restored as of this writing) recently, many of us wouldn’t have been exposed as morally sick.
The suspension was treated by most gambling-crazed Filipinos as like a national tragedy; like they lost a prime property to a hurricane, or they weren’t able to withdraw a single centavo before the rural bank, where they saved all their money, declared bankruptcy.
For some it was like a matter of life and death.
Give us gambling or give us death.
It exposed a grim reality that without organized gambling, many Filipinos can’t go on with a normal life; they can’t function effectively as normal social beings.
For some whose main livelihood and day-to-day existence are 100 percent reliant to the PCSO gaming schemes, it was like a sudden death from a thousand cuts.
It demonstrated the fact that many Filipinos exist on a game of chance; that if the government or any higher authority will permanently clamp down on both legal and illegal gambling in the country, life will also abruptly end for many gamblers and gambling operators.
We teach our children the basic Christian virtues and the values of hard work, sacrifice, fair play, simple living; yet, many of us openly pay homage to gambling and treat it as a be-all and end-all of how to survive and exist in this world.
The situation becomes more alarming when public officials like Health Secretary Francisco Duque III go on a rampage if gambling operations are stopped.
“They have to be imaginative on where to get the funds. The PCSO funding is huge and can render anemic the capacity of the Malasakit centers to be able to maximize support to poor patients,” Duque said. “The shortfall must be filled.”
The likes of Duque believe that gambling, as the chief source of funds to help defray the expenses for social assistance, is omnipotent.
We are glad that the name of the new Iloilo City grandstand now located in Muelle Loney, City Proper is now back as “Iloilo City Freedom Grandstand” by virtue of an executive order issued by Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas.
Many Ilonggos sobbed when Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III renamed it to “Iloilo City Dinagyang Grandstand” last year.
It added insult to the grandstand’s injury after it was demolished and uprooted from its original territory on J.M. Basa Street in Aduana last year and transferred to its new location.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)