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Catholic Church declines Pagcor offer to finance drug rehab center
By Mark Francisco

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, March 17 (PNA) -- Officials of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) offered to help the Roman Catholic Church to finance the archdiocese’s drug rehabilitation program in exchange for operating a casino here last year, a top Roman Catholic official said Friday.

Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, head of the Roman Catholic’s Archdiocese in Misamis Oriental, said they refused the offer.

Ledesma said that Pagcor, the government-owned gambling firm, has sent “feelers” to his office explaining its willingness to finance the construction of the archdiocese’s drug rehabilitation center here.

He said that in his reply to the offer, he told the Pagcor’s liaison officer that “you cannot stop an addiction by creating another addiction” – referring to addiction to illegal drugs and addiction to gambling.

During the press conference Friday afternoon, Ledesma reiterated the firm stand of the Roman Catholic Church against the operation of the casino in Cagayan De Oro, saying that the economy could be developed without gambling.

Pagcor reportedly proposed the operation of a casino at the Limketkai Center, a commercial complex in the village of Lapasan, in the city’s eastern district.

About 20 years ago, PAGCOR’s first attempt to operate a casino in an uptown hotel here failed amid heavy resistance by the city government and the Roman Catholic Church. (PNA)
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