MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday he has allowed gambling operations in the country because state funds are running low, even as he at one point said he hated it.
Duterte noted he once said he was against gambling. But he said the COVID-19 pandemic forced government to use its reserved funds.
"Sabi nila sa panahon ko, pinayagan ko ang sugal (they say that during my term, I allowed gambling). Correct. That is true. I do not deny it," Duterte said in a taped meeting his political party, which aired on Wednesday.
"Now itong sugal, bakit ko pinayagan? Wala tayong pera eh," he added.
(Why did I allow gambling? We have no money.)
Duterte in 2018 said he "hate[s] gambling."
But mostly Chinese-run online gambling hubs had proliferated in the Philippines under his term, even before the COVID-19 crisis.
"Ngayon kasi kailangan natin ng pera, the most sensible thing is really just to encourage those activities, though it may sound not really repulsive, maybe repugnant to some lang," Duterte said. "Magdusa na muna kayo kasi kailangan ko talaga ang pera para sa bayan."
(Now that we need money, the most sensible thing is really just to encourage those activities, though it may sound not really repulsive, maybe repugnant to just some. Just suffer for now because I need funds for our nation.)
"The times are not really conducive to being a moralist now. You have to be pragmatic about it," he added.
However, Duterte said he rejects gambling on "the barangay level" because there would be "no control."