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Editorial | False move, false hope

The government-run Philippine News Agency published a story about the move of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office in asking President Rodrigo R. Duterte to let it resume its operations.

The story quoted Royina Garma, a once feisty police officer in the city that now serves as its the general manager, as having sent a letter to the President asking the latter to let the government gambling operator resume its activities.

Just like any other businesses in the country and abroad, the lotto operator has suspended its operations since three months ago after the government declared the public health emergency and has since implemented quarantine protocols to help curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Garma assured that the agency will ensure that minimum health standards, like necessary health protocols, will be implemented.

But has the agency thought of the implication that the operations of the lotto outlets would bring to the public consciousness, particularly to the poor people who have been looking for ways that would alleviate their situation immediately?

Aside from seemingly sending a message that there was a semblance of normalcy, the operations of lotto outlets will also trigger the poor to use the last cents in their pockets because of the promise of huge returns.

The only differences between lotto operations and the investment scams are that the money needed in betting is a mere paltry compared with the one needed to invest in scams, and that the former is legal, while the latter is illegal. But both promise a huge ridiculous return in investments in a very short period of time..

Like any other gambling activities, there are those who bet with the hope of becoming instant millionaires, unconscious that they are dirt poor and that instead of using a few pesos to buy lotto tickets, it would be better to buy a half kilogram of rice for the children waiting for them at home.

The growing hope in the heart of these people cannot be matched that even when they know that winning in lotto draws is next to impossible, they will continue to spend their hard-earned money, sometimes the money that they got from the government as subsidy, because of the promise of instant huge dough.

Unless the agency is able to look for alternative gambling products that only the rich would bet and that its income would be plowed to the poor communities, it would be better to continue to suspend its activities. Otherwise, it will hugely contribute to the devastation that the pandemic has carried to the lives of the poor.

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