Fisherfolk doubts Duterte’s “innocence” on the Boracay casino plan
Manila, Philippines – The activist fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) is skeptic with President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement that he was not aware of the planned casino-resort in Boracay, which the President called a “cesspool”, thus ordered a 6-month shutdown starting on April 26.
In a statement, the fisherfolk group recalled that in December 2017, the team from Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. (GEG) headed by its Chairman Lui Che-Woo and Vice Chairman Francis Lui-Yiu paid a courtesy call to President Duterte where they discussed the proposal to build a $500-M integrated casino-resort in Boracay.
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) has already provided a provisional permit to the Macau-based casino giant together with its local partner, Leisure and Resorts World Corp. (LRWC) owned by incumbent Negros Occidental Representative and Duterte-ally Alfredo Benitez, to build the 23-hectare casino-resort that will start on 2019.
Mocking Duterte, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson and former Anakpawis Party-list solon Fernando Hicap said: “President Duterte is making a fool out of the Filipino people by denying his knowledge on the planned Chinese casino in Boracay. It is already clear to the public that Duterte’s directive to rehabilitate the island is only a “lutong macau” because there are already giant conglomerates that will replace local infrastructures and businesses in the island,”
Aside from the high-end casino, a certain DoubleDragon Properties Corp. confirmed that they will build the country’s largest hotel by room count in Boracay dubbed as Hotel 101 Resorts. The two-hectare property will have 1,001 rooms that will be located inside Megaworld’s Boracay Newcoast.
The fisherfolk group has expressed its strong opposition to the Boracay shutdown, saying it would adversely affect Aklan’s local income which finances its basic social services including the province’s provincial hospital and 3 district hospitals. The crackdown would also effectively displace at least 36, 000 workers from formal and informal sectors.
“Despite the declaration that Boracay is already suffering from overpopulation and intense commercialization, how come permits to giant businesses like the Galaxy Entertainment Group and DoubleDragon Properties were granted to enable them to construct their structures and operate in the island. Transforming the leisure island into gambling island is highly unacceptable especially if it will violate the Filipino people’s right to livelihood and disrespect our national patrimony,” added Hicap, demanding Duterte to retract the permits granted to the casino giant and other big businesses, as well as castigate the PAGCOR and other government officials who approved such licenses. ###