Editorial: Will cash cow be protected?

Editorial Cartoon by Bernard Fabro

THE man who attacked Resorts World Manila, resulting in the death by suffocation of the casino’s 37 guests and employees, has been identified as Jessie Javier Carlos, a former employee of the Department of Finance (DOF) and a “heavily indebted high roller.” With his identification, questions asked about the attack have been answered. So too the ill effects of gambling addiction was given a face.

Police alleged that Carlos had racked up around P4 million in debts. He was dismissed by the anti-graft office from the service for grave misconduct and gross neglect of duty. He and his wife were estranged. All of these obviously a result of his gambling problem. Reports did not link him to any terrorist group.

This made clearer the motive and target. While Carlos was armed with a baby armalite, he also brought him two liters of gasoline. That he didn’t use the gun to shoot people meant he was only after the casino. He burned gambling tables with the gasoline before doing what he must have been intending to do: commit suicide.

Authorities tend to downplay the bad effects of gambling addiction because of two things: one, the damage it brings is not as visible as the one wrought by, say, drug addiction, and, two, gambling generates revenue for the government. The Carlos case finally shows that gambling addiction can lead to mass killing, too.

Medical News Today (medicalnewstoday.com) notes that gambling addiction or “problem gambling” is a “progressive addiction that can have many negative psychological, physical and social repercussions.” It has even become a significant public health concern in many countries. It added:

“People dealing with this addiction can suffer from depression, migraine, distress, intestinal disorders and other anxiety related problems. Ultimately, severe problem gambling can lead to suicide. The rate of problem gambling has risen globally over the last few years.”

Which begs the following questions. Will the investigations (Congress is reportedly raring to conduct its own probe supposedly in aid of legislation) on the Resorts World incident skirt the gambling addiction angle? Will government continue to gloss over the obvious–that gambling addiction can be destructive—to protect a cash cow, which is gambling?

Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on June 06, 2017.

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