De Lima opposes casino projects in Boracay


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima today expressed concern over the government’s plan to convert Boracay island into a gambling haven following the administration’s approval of the development of casinos in the country’s famous tourist destination.

De Lima said the plans to allow more casino operations on Boracay caused her to cast serious doubts on the real motive behind Duterte’s order to shut down beach resorts in the island in the guise of imposing strict environmental laws.

“I have serious doubts that the real intention to close down Boracay island was to rehabilitate it but instead to accommodate business interests by paving the way for the establishment of more casino operations in the island,” she said.

“While we clean up the island and penalize violators, let us be wary of the social and moral impacts of such development projects. The presence of more casinos in the island would create more problems than solutions in the communities,” she added.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of the Interior and Local Government and Department of Tourism recommended a one-year total closure of Boracay island for rehabilitation.

Despite the planned closure and Duterte’s imposition of a moratorium on the construction of new casinos, his administration disturbingly still granted the provisional license for the construction of casinos there.

Based on reports, Macau-based casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. and its local partner, AB Leisure Exponent Inc., are expected to build a $500-million integrated casino resort in Boracay next year.

Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation Chairperson Andrea Domingo has also reportedly approved the application of gaming operations of Resorts World Manila at the Savoy Hotel at the Megaworld Corp’s Boracay Newcoast development.

In addition to these two big casino resorts, she also disclosed that two other casino junket firms with smaller operations located at Movenpick and Crown Regency resorts in Boracay.

De Lima also called to mind the country’s experience with Chinese gaming tycoon Jack Lam who has records of bribing immigration officials to free some illegal Chinese workers who were arrested at his Pampanga casino, in 2016.

“By now, we should have already learned our lessons not to easily trust Chinese investors. Based on our country’s experience with Lam, there is no guarantee that our local industry and our local law will not be prejudiced again once we allow a Chinese company to convert our island into a Macau-style casino,” she noted.

It may be recalled that in 2016, two immigration officials were accused of extorting P50 million pesos from Lam but the two officials claimed that they took the money “as evidence of corruption.”

If anything, the issue stemmed from the issue on the employment of the illegal Chinese workers and the alleged illegal online gambling operation.

At the very least, De Lima said she hopes the Duterte administration will reconsider its decision not only to avoid crime and corruption in the island but also to protect the environment, the workers and the locals in the area.

Office of Senator Leila de Lima
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Trunk Lines:
(632) 552-6601 to 70 local no. 5750

Direct Lines:
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