MANILA – Pokemon GO remains under siege from lawmakers and religious leaders, who have blamed the popular game in people's alleged loss of respect for rules of the road and the Church.
In a statement decrying the Metro Manila Council's (MMC) move to ban provincial buses from EDSA, Albay Representative Joey Salceda said Pokemon GO players in private cars pose more problems to Manila traffic than provincial buses.
People hunting for the virtual creatures hinder traffic when they ask their drivers to stop while they catch Pokemon, Salceda said.
"Dahan-dahan, may Pikachu dito. Itabi mo sandali, may Lures dito (Slow down, there's a Pikachu here. Pull over, there are Lures here)."
According to Salceda, anyone with a car is rich enough to own a mobile device which can be used to play Pokemon GO.
"Multiply that by the 2.5 million cars in Metro Manila," he said, and you have more people who are likely to play the game in their cars than the estimated 3,300 provincial buses plying EDSA.
About 1,500 of these buses, Salceda said, ply the EDSA route going to Bicol.
The Metro Manila Council, made up of city mayors and government transport officials, said the resolution to remove buses from EDSA is in compliance with President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address directive to move terminals away from city centers, and decongest major thoroughfares.
A bishop in Baguio City, meanwhile, also blamed the augmented-reality game for church-goers’ "lack of respect."
"Nawawalan ng ugaling maganda...kapag nagmimisa tayo, siyempre bawal iyon. Dapat makisama ka sa pagsamba sa Panginoon (They are losing their manners…when we attend mass, that’s not allowed. You should participate in worshiping the Lord)," said Bishop Carlito Cenzon. "Sa korte nga, sasabihin ‘di ba (Even in court, judges say), 'not in my court.'"
According to Pokemon GO players in the northern Luzon tourist hub, they go to churches to play because these are often named by the game as PokeStops or PokeGyms—places where players can collect special items and battle fellow players.
Parish priest Ronel Taboso of Sto. Nino Church in Tacloban also said players should go to church "for the right reasons."
"They should use their time and energy productively and not waste their precious time," Taboso said in a statement on the CBCP website on Monday.
In Naga City, local officials banned players from City Hall and transport hub Bicol Central Station. This, they said, is to make sure that government employees are able to focus on their work.
Despite the game being banned by government officials and Church leaders, however, commercial institutions have embraced the game’s popularity. Malls staged "Lure parties" over the weekend, and telco giants Globe and Smart offered free data for Pokemon GO players.
--With reports from Micaella Ilao, ABS-CBN News