MANILA — Sacked officials of the Nayong Pilipino Foundation (NDF) defied President Rodrigo R. Duterte by publishing a letter defending their decision to lease its property for a USD1.5-billion casino resort in Parañaque City, Malacañang said Wednesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark after dismissed NPF chairperson Patricia Ocampo, in a letter published in newspapers, insisted that the lease project between the NDF and Landing Resorts Philippines Development Corp. (LRPDC) was legal and did not require public bidding under the law.
“Nabasa ko po at medyo nababahala ako, parang ito po ay talagang pagsuway doon sa naging desisyon na ng Presidente (I read the ad and I’m quite disturbed, this seems to be a defiance of the President’s decision),” Roque said in an interview over DZMM.
Roque pointed out that all public officials, including those who are in government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs), serve at the pleasure of the President. The NPF is a GOCC attached to the Department of Tourism.
“Ibig sabihin ang kanilang paninilbihan ay nakasalalay pa rin sa Presidente at ang tingin ko, matapos magsalita ang Presidente na itong kontratang ito ay flawed, na ayaw na niya ang mga casino, eh dapat sumunod na talaga itong liderato ng Nayong Pilipino (This means that they serve at the pleasure of the president and I think, after the President declared that the contract is flawed, that he didn’t want casinos, the leadership of Nayong Pilipino should have complied with his decision),” he added.
Last August 7, Duterte fired the entire NPF board and management for what Roque described as a “ridiculous’” lease of government property.
Respect Duterte’s decision
Roque urged the NPF officials anew to “respect” Duterte’s decision against the construction of new casinos.
“For now, let us respect the decision of the President. PRRD’s stance remains: He does not want a new casino,” Roque said in a press statement.
He insisted that entering into a deal was a “violation of the President’s order” that there will be no more new casinos allowed to operate in this country.
“Since the President has already spoken, no NPF trustee or official can insist that he or she should continue holding office,” he added.
Roque reminded sacked NPF officials that Duterte was not only against the construction of new casinos but also believed that the contract was flawed.
He said Fema’s admission that the deal did not require public biding was an admission that there was no public bidding required by law that took place.
“Dapat po iyan idinaan sa public bidding at iyan po ay pag-amin, dahil sa tingin naman ng Presidente ay pag-amin po iyan na walang nagkaroong bidding (That should have gone through public bidding and that’s admission that there was no public bidding),” Roque said.
Roque said if NPF officials believed they were unfairly accused of graft and corruption, then they should “focus their energies on any investigation of the charges.”
In February, Duterte ordered a moratorium on new casinos insisting that there were enough casinos in the country.
Earlier, Duterte also ordered to stop any casino project in Boracay Island despite Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation’s (Pagcor) provisional license given to Macau-based Galaxy Entertainment Group.
The Galaxy Entertainment and its local partner Leisure and Resorts World Corporation are supposed to build a USD500-million casino resort in Boracay Island.
Malacañang, however, said the top tourist destination is still open to other investments “except casinos.” PNA-northboundasia.com