MANILA — President Rodrigo R. Duterte reiterated that he will not allow gambling on Boracay Island despite the provisional license given to a Macau-based firm to construct a resort-casino in the top tourist destination.
“I will not allow gambling. I’m not issuing any franchise for gambling in the entire Philippines now. It’s a moratorium. Ayaw ko (I don’t like it). I hate gambling,” Duterte said in his speech during the League of Municipalities of the Philippines Visayas Island Cluster Conference in Cebu City on Tuesday.
“Kung may mga resort diyan (So if there’s a resort there), they still talk about gambling, you better say it to them at an early time. No more gambling,” he added.
Duterte has repeatedly said that Boracay Island is a forestal and agriculture area and that if lawmakers preferred to keep the commercial quality of the island, he would allow a strip of land for that purpose.
“If you are targeting the lands behind — remember that the entire land is still forestal and agriculture. Nobody but nobody can set up anything there that’s commercial,” Duterte said.
“No more construction, no nothing. It will be destroyed,” he added.
The President further said that he will give Boracay Island “to the natives.”
“The Mangyans who are there who are present will have it,” Duterte said. The President was referring to the Ati people.
Earlier, Duterte said he is eyeing the creation of a committee that will identify the land owners of Boracay Island, which is currently undergoing rehabilitation.
“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,” Duterte said.
Upon Duterte’s orders, the government closed Boracay to tourists on April 26. It is set to re-open on October 26.
Duterte, meanwhile, declared the entire Boracay Island as a land reform area last May 30.
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.
Malacañang, however, assured that all investments are still welcome in Boracay Island except casinos. Azer Parrocha/PNA – northboundasia.com