Duterte’s Boracay ban not meant to favor casino construction of Albee Benitez, Lui Che Woo
There is no link between the plan of a Macau casino operator to build an integrated resort in Boracay and President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s move to temporarily close the top tourist destination, Malacañang said Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this statement following concerns that the Chief Executive’s plan to close Boracay is meant to pave the way for the Leisure & Resorts World Corporation (LRWC) to build a $500-million resort.
The casino is a joint venture bwteeen bilyonaryo Albee Benitez of LRWC and billionaire Lui Che Woo of Galaxy Entertainment Group.
“I see no link between the casino and whatever decision the President will make. His decision will depend exclusively on what is best to protect the environment of Boracay,” Roque said in a Palace briefing.
Roque described the rumors on the proposed closure being a ploy to allow the construction of the resort as “without basis”.
“Wala pong katuturan ‘yan. Wala pa nga pong desisyon ang Presidente (That has no basis. The President has not reached a decision),” he added stressing that the protection of the environment was what would determine Duterte’s course of action.
Roque explained that Duterte has yet to decide whether he would accept, reject or shorten the recommendation to close the island for one-year.
The proposed one-year closure of Boracay was recommended by an interagency task force headed by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu.
Roque also pointed out that Duterte did not meddle in contracts to build establishments in tourism sites, noting that it was the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) responsible for issuing the license to build the resort.
”The President has said, that he does not sign anything as far as contracts are concerned. This is a PAGCOR contract then it must be PAGCOR that will sign this,” Roque said.
Roque reiterated that the decision on whether or not LRWC could actually “conduct business” in Boracay would depend on the decision of the President based on the task force’s recommendation.
Pagcor Chair Andrea Domingo said Galaxy would gets it provisional license by the end of March and that the one yer ban would have no impact on the casino construction which would take three years to complete.
In its disclosure, Galaxy told the stock exchange that it has acquired 23 hectares in Barangay Manoc-Manoc on Boracay Island