A plan by local business, Limketkai Sons Inc., for the creation of a casino within the company’s commercial complex located in the city of Cagayan de Oro in the Philippines is being met with disapproval by the church.

In a January 16 letter to the City Council, the company reportedly stated that it is applying for a franchise in order to establish and operate a casino which would occupy the entire second floor of its Lifestyle Podium building currently under construction within its Limketkai Center. The building is expected to be completed by January of next year, according to local news agency SunStar.

While the Limketkai proposal has yet to be discussed by city officials, church groups have already expressed their views on what effect a casino in the city would have on the community. Limketkai has reportedly expressed its “desire to contribute to the promotion of the City of Cagayan de Oro as a tourist destination for rest, recreation, and entertainment,” however; Monsignor Rey Monsanto of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro questioned the proposed location of the casino, which he reportedly said is “in the heart of the city.”

According to the news agency, Monsanto said the Roman Catholic Church has always been opposed to small-scale gambling, let alone high-stake gambling such as a casino operation. And said that if the casino is intended to attract tourists, it should be situated in a rural area, not in the center of the city. Monsanto also questioned the idea that a casino is the only way to promote tourism in the city.

Limketkai reportedly asked in its letter that the City Council support its project.

Monsanto said although an official statement has yet to be released by the Archdiocese; the casino proposal will not be supported by the church. He added that should the plan for the casino be successful, the church might cancel the Holy Mass in Limketkai Center and remove the chapel.

George Goking , the chairman of the Committee on Trade and Commerce, reportedly said that before a decision on the matter is made by the council,  public hearings will need to be conducted so that both sides can be heard and the pros and cons weighed by the committee. He also assured that the public’s opinion will be heard, according to the report.

On Friday, February 17, a meeting will be conducted by the committee on games and amusements chaired by City Councilor Zaldy Ocon. Those invited include members of the church and the community.