Philippines’ Duterte Says No To Proposed Boracay Casino Plans
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has confused many people about the exact status of the proposed multi-million dollar casino resort project on Boracay Island. Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd is the company behind the proposed Boracay casino and had reportedly cleared all the hurdles to develop a major casino resort on the tourist friendly island.
President Duterte surprised a lot of people this week when he referred to Boracay and said
I don't have plans there for casinos. There are enough, there are too many. Casino here, casino there.
However, local news stations pointed out that Duterte may have stepped back from this hardline position a bit. In a recent interview before he left for a conference in China, President Duterte indicated that no casinos or business can be built on Boracay while it is closed for its cleaning – indicating that there may be an opening after the cleaning is done.
Recently, the Philippine government ordered a six-month closure of Boracay. The reason for the sudden closure was supposedly a full scale environmental clean-up. The planned closure is slated to begin on April 26. PAGCOR, however, was adamant that this move would not hurt the plans for the proposed casino resort as the project will take a few years to complete.
In February, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR), which is the gaming regulator in the Philippines, issued a provisional gaming license to Galaxy Entertainment. This gaming license was intended to be used in Boracay and the company had plans to invest $500 million into the project.
President Prefers Farming To Gaming
Duterte denied any knowledge of a casino project on the island and claimed that he wants Boracay to be a land reform area, with plots given to farmers. This is in accordance with a 2008 Supreme Court decision that reinforced a 2006 presidential proclamation made by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. This ruling placed 400 hectares of forest land on the island under protection, while another 629 hectares of agricultural land was reserved.
However, locals were a bit surprised that the Duterte preferred farming over gaming. The reason for this is that the Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) have stated that it would take 30 years before the land is available for land reform. This means that the earliest that a title can be applied for cultivation in Boracay is 2036.
The DENR is already aware of the casino resort project as the Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said in March that the Galaxy Entertainment project still required approval from the agency's Environmental Management Bureau before any construction work could begin. Galaxy Entertainment is yet to release a statement on President Duterte’s remarks.
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