Philippine Officials Insist Casino Construction Off Limits on Boracay
PTV News has reported that the Philippine government is dedicated to keeping its promise to prohibit casinos from being built on the Island of Boracay. The government reiterated this sentiment while announcing its plans to reopen the tourist hub ahead of the previously announced date of Oct. 26.
Casino construction on the Island blocked
Eduardo Año, Philippine Interior and Local Government OIC secretary, repeated the government’s commitment to block any plans to construct casinos on the island, even after its official reopening to the public. Año said this while attending the 2018 pre-State of the Nation forum in Manila.
Año pointed out the fact that tourists, whether domestic or foreign, go to the island to swim but not to gamble. He added that this decision had already been taken up by the president, Rodrigo Duterte, when he issued a moratorium on the issuance of licenses for, and the construction of, casinos on Boracay.
Roy Cimatu, secretary for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), said that the government was on course with the planned reopening of Boracay on Oct. 26. The island was closed, by order of the president, for a six-month period to undergo rehabilitation and cleanup.
Boracay was ordered closed by Duterte after he learned that the island’s sewage system was subpar. Cimatu reported that the island may be opening earlier than initially anticipated because the stakeholders are cooperating with the government in its effort to rehabilitate the island.
GEG to construct a casino on Boracay
By the time of the president’s moratorium, the construction of an integrated resort on Boracay by GEG (Galaxy Entertainment Group) had already been approved by PAGCOR (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.). The regulating corporation issued GEG a provisional gaming license, which gives it permission to continue with its planned construction, which has been slated to begin next year.
If the government allows the group to continue with these plans, the integrated resort would, according to projections, generate an annual revenue of up to $100 million for GEG. At the time of the president’s order, the group had already decided on and bought the site. It was also finalizing the designs. While making the moratorium, the president pointed out that gambling had negative effects on the population.
Statements by a tourism official recently sparked concerns about the proposed casino. The statements alluded to the fact that GEG was looking for another site for the construction of the integrated hotel. These sentiments were, however, debunked by Leisure & Resorts World Corp, the group’s local partner, stating that it would not be abandoning the Boracay project.
Boracay reopening guidelines
Cimatu, who is heading the Boracay Interagency Task Force, has assured the country that environmental issues plaguing the island will be dealt with before the reopening. The task force has been entrusted with carrying out the rehabilitation of the island.
He has reaffirmed that all the establishments on the island will not be allowed to drain their wastewater into the island’s waterways. He said his priority at the moment was to make sure that untreated sewage is not allowed to reach the beachfront. One of the ways he said he would be ensuring this was by spearheading the condemnation of the sewer line running along the beach.
Cimatu had earlier issued a memorandum dictating the planned management of sewers on the island. The memorandum states that all establishments that have more than 50 rooms will be required to develop sewage treatment plans of their own. All establishments with less than 50 rooms have the option of establishing a common sewage plant to be used among them.
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