MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has spurned a plan to build a $500-million casino resort complex in Boracay Island, stating that he will place the real estate property under the land reform program for distribution to the farmers in the aforementioned island.
“I never said anything about building even a nipa hut there. What I said is the island is owned by the government. I’ve said it before, agricultural and forestal,” President Duterte said in a press conference before leaving the country for China on Saturday, April 9.
Duterte said what he ordered was a cleanup of the country’s crown jewel.
“My orders were to clean it up. So pag may cleanup, sarado (If there’s a cleanup, it should be closed). There’s one way in, one way out,” Duterte added.
Duterte earlier said that P2 billion has been allocated to those who will be affected by the shutdown of Boracay to local and foreign tourists.
“I just wanted it cleaned, I will return it to the Filipinos. There’s no plan to build a casino there. We have casinos here, casinos there. Give it to the people who need it most,” Duterte further said.
He stressed out that he would no longer entertain suggestions nor opinions from any group, most especially the business sector, which opposes the Boracay Island closure.
Businessmen have been complaining the loss in revenues due to the rehabilitation of the country’s top tourist destination.
“How about the businesses? I’m sorry. But that is the law. The law says it is forestal, agricultural. Why would I deviate from that? Do I have a good reason to do that?” Duterte added.
Duterte issued the press statement in the middle of reports that a Macau-based Galaxy Entertainment and its Filipino partner, Leisure and Resorts World Corp., would begin the construction of a casino resort complex in Boracay Island next year.
The casino giant and state-owned Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., (PAGCOR) have signed a provisional license for the construction of the Boracay casino complex.