Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte kills Boracay casino plan

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Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte

In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte (pictured) has reportedly axed the $500 million plan from Galaxy Entertainment Group Limited that would have seen the Hong Kong-listed firm construct a 1,000-room integrated casino resort on the small island of Boracay.

According to a report from the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper, Thursday saw Duterte approve recommendations from the Department of Tourism and the Department of Interior and Local Government to close the 2,550-acre island to all tourists for six months from April 26 so that its sewerage infrastructure can be upgraded.

“My orders were to clean it up so when it’s being clean, it’s closed,” Duterte reportedly told the Philippine Daily Enquirer earlier today in advance of leaving for a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping. “There’s one way in, one way out.”

After these essential works have been carried out, the controversial Duterte reportedly told the newspaper that the island located some 196 miles south of Manila is to be designated as a ‘land reform area’ with local farmers being gifted their own plots.

“It’s going to be a land reform area for the Filipinos,” 73-year-old Duterte reportedly told the Philippine Daily Enquirer. “Consider Boracay a land reform area. I will give it to the farmers; to the Filipino first.”

Galaxy Entertainment Group Limited had earlier received a provisional license for its Boracay project from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation regulator and had hoped to begin welcoming guests as early as 2021. But, Duterte reportedly declared that he had known nothing about this plan and did not believe that such a venue would benefit locals.

“Why would I give you a casino there,” Duterte reportedly told the newspaper. “What will the Filipinos get out of it? Give it to the people who need it most. That is an announcement. It will be a land reform area. Period. There is no plan to build a casino there. Stop already because there are too many. There’s a casino here, a casino there.”

The Philippine Daily Enquirer reported that Duterte moreover detailed that he would designate Boracay as being in a ‘state of calamity’ and launch a program to supply locals with farming equipment and financial aid.

“Now if you are asking about financial help, I am going to sign a proclamation of calamity and we can make available about $38.42 million in assistance but this will only be for the poor Filipinos,” Duterte reportedly told the newspaper. “I will not spend a single cent on the inns there, hotel owners or motels. And for the beautiful houses, do not expect me to pay anything.”