Gambling Key to Philippines Economy

Published September 10, 2008 by OCR Editor

Gambling Key to Philippines Economy

Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila has told the House of Representatives that the gambling industry holds the key to boosting foreign investments in the Philippines.

Gambling could bring the Philippines more foreign investments on a level similar to those of Singapore and Malaysia, Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila stated Monday.

The Philippine Daily Enquirer has reported that Favila told the national House of Representatives of his support for plans to set up a gambling complex in the Philippines, saying that its two Asian neighbors have boosted foreign investment through similar projects.

He pointed to statistics showing the advantage Singapore and Malaysia have over the Philippines in foreign investments. In 2007 the Philippines brought in around $2 billion in foreign investment, compared to Singapore and Malaysia with between $8-10 billion each, he said.

Favila added that Singapore and Malaysia's success was a result of their decisions to engage in "new project activity, which is now more popularly referred to as entertainment and private gaming".

The Arroyo government is currently working on the $15 billion Bagong Nayong Pilipino-Manila Bay Integrated City gambling project, the reincarnation of the now-failed $20 billion Pagcor Entertainment City.

Gambling in the Philippines is a controversial issue, given the large Catholic population in the south Asian archipelago.

Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz has been one of the main voices from the clergy speaking out against the project.

"The Philippine Government is the official gambling lord -- a living reality that makes all upright and decent Filipinos wallow in disgust and shame", Cruz wrote in his blog.

"To promote gambling for charity and humanitarian purposes, to build a $15-billion gambling city for the progress and development of the country...are but signs of desperation to deodorize and sanitize the downright vice of gambling -- with the present administration as its over-all [boss."

Favila acknowledged the Church's concerns, but said it was important not to miss out on the opportunity the project has presented.

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