Proving that social media’s reach has taken to potentially influencing socio-political discussions, Guam governor Eddie Calvo has called on residents of Guam to voice their opinions regarding a controversial gambling bill on his Facebook page.
After browsing through the governor’s page to view the comments, it appears that a lot of Guan netizens are opposed to the passing of Bill 19 that would call for the complete ban of gambling on the US territory after it pays off the mounting debt incurred by the Guam Memorial Hospital.
Calvo has until next week to act on approving or vetoing the bill and while it remains to be seen if he listens to calls to oppose it from residents of Guam, it does look like he’s nowhere close to coming to a decision. It won’t even be surprising if he takes all the time he has at his disposal before he acts on it.
Last week, state lawmakers unanimously approved Bill 19 to make gambling illegal as soon as the hospital pays off its $18 million in vendor debt. After weeks of debating surrounding the bill, Sen. Ben Pangelinan, D-Barrigada added an amendment on the bill to ban gambling machines once the hospital’s debt is fully paid. Pangelinan’s amendment was quickly followed by another provision, this time from Sen. Mike San Nicolas, D-Dededo, to completely ban all forms of gambling in Guam as soon as the hospital is debt-free.
The unanimous approval from the senate quickly drew mixed reactions from varying sectors of the community, including from Santa Rita mayor Dale Alvarez who asked the government to exempt cockfighting from the bill, arguing that cockfighting is a cultural institution and making it illegal would only drive the practice underground.
Another voice, particularly from noted gambling opponent Archbishop Anthony Apuron, has taken the route of questioning the bill and whether it’s underlying purpose would be to end gambling or make it permanently legal. In a written statement released late last week, Apuron argued that the text of the bill doesn’t include a list of the hospital’s debts so no written provisions are in place as to when the gambling ban would be put into effect, thus potentially “legalizing gambling in perpetuity”, the archbishop wrote.
It’s a probably a good thing then that Calvo still has a few days to sort things out and iron out all the arguments being thrown around from those in favor of or opposed to Bill 19.