When the resort island of Boracay was shut down earlier this year for an intensive cleanup and rehabilitation drive, somewhat buried under the grumbling and complaints from resort and establishment owners losing business, residents getting their movements restricted, and tourists forced to alter their travel plans due to cancelled flights, is the report that a new resort casino is being proposed for construction on the island. This Chinese-owned gambling destination was put on hold while Boracay was put on lockdown. Now, despite claims by local backers that building the resort will resume, Malacañang is giving the casino project a “no”.
CNN Philippines has it that Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque declared during a press briefing this Monday, July 30, that the planned Chinese casino resort will not be seeing the light of day after all. This came in the wake of a statement given Friday last week by Leisure & Resorts World Corporation (LRWC) that they are still on track to construct the complex for Galaxy Entertainment Group, a major casino operator in the Macau SAR. Katrina Nepomuceno, VP legal affairs for LRWC, insisted that their project has fulfilled all necessary requirements for construction, even before the April closure of Boracay.
The LRWC points to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) having given Galaxy Entertainment a provisional license to build a hotel-casino resort on the island in March, a month before the closure went into effect. Nepomuceno’s assertion that this gives their company the green light to resume construction once Boracay reopens was refuted by Harry Roque. “The provisional license is not a license itself,” said the Presidential spokesperson during the briefing. “It is conditional. It is provisional. It is subject to the happening of conditions, which will never be fulfilled because the President said he will not allow it.”
Roque was referring to a statement given by President Rodrigo Duterte back in February, where he has called for a moratorium on the construction of additional resorts and business on Boracay connected to gambling. His reasons for this was his opinion that there is already a potential “over-supply” of casinos on the island, which is notoriously congested with business establishments as it is. While Galaxy and LRWC may have already set aside $500 million, or P26 billion for the building of their resort, the Presidential pronouncement is already authoritative enough to put a halt to it, according to environmental officials.
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Boracay Island will officially reopen to tourists and businesses this October 26, once the collaborative inter-agency cleanup and rehabilitation efforts conclude.
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