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Duterte bans casino in Boracay

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MANILA – All investments, except casinos, are still welcome in Boracay, Malacañang said, insisting that President Rodrigo R. Duterte will not allow the construction of a gambling establishment in the top tourist destination.


“I think what the President said is that he will not allow casinos. All other investments are otherwise welcome into Boracay,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace briefing.


Macau-based Galaxy Entertainment Group and its Filipino partner, AB Leisure Exponent Inc., earlier revealed a plan to build a USD500-million integrated resort-casino complex on a 23-hectare property in Barangay Manoc-Manoc on Boracay Island. Roque explained that Duterte “does not like” casinos because they encouraged certain types of gambling activities.


“The President does not like casinos as a matter of public policy. It is contrary to good morals. It encourages a vice, which is gambling,” Roque said.


Earlier, Roque warned private corporations from proceeding with construction of establishments despite the President’s firm belief that Boracay Island is a forestal and agriculture area.


“I don’t think any private entity should test the political will of the President on the issue of casinos in Boracay. The President has said no, and I would hope they would respect that as part of Executive power,” Roque said.


Despite a private entity being given a provisional license to proceed with construction, Roque described the license as “conditional” and “provisional.”


“It is subject to the happening of conditions which will never be fulfilled because the President has said he will not allow it,” Roque said.


On July 4, Duterte said that he is eyeing the creation of a committee that will identify the land owners of Boracay Island, which is currently undergoing rehabilitation.


Yang (That) Boracay, sinasabi ko (I’m telling you), allow government to clean it. And after that, I will return Boracay to its rightful owners,” Duterte said in an earlier speech.


“Now the problem is how to determine who owns what. There has to be a committee to be fair to everybody. From the local government then from the origins of any title there,” he added.


Upon Duterte’s orders, the government closed Boracay to tourists on April 26. It is set to re-open on October 26. 


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