Palace: No new casino in Boracay

Despite a “provisional license” granted to a Chinese gaming firm, there will be no construction of any casino in Boracay, Malacañang said on Thursday, April 12.

Last month, Macau-based Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. and its Filipino partner, Leisure and Resorts World Corp., announced their plan to construct a casino-resort in Boracay after securing a provisional license from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

However, Palace Spokesperson Harry Roque clarified that President Rodrigo Duterte has “not issued any proclamation that will authorize any casino in Boracay itself.”

“I did clarify this with the resident and the president said ‘as far as Boracay as concerned I have not issued any proclamation that will authorize any casino in Boracay itself,’” Roque told reporters. 

He went on to say, “We welcome all investors, but I think the president has already addressed the issue of a new casino in Boracay. There will be no new casino in Boracay. That’s the president’s declaration. I don’t have to annotate.”

While Boracay is off-limits to casino projects, Roque said Galaxy could operate somewhere else.

Duterte has ordered the closure of Boracay for six months, starting April 26, to address the area’s environmental woes. 

Senator Antonio Trillanes, however, questioned Duterte’s “real motive” for the order, claiming that the closure was meant to facilitate the construction of a casino on the island. He filed a motion seeking whether the shutdown was “being made to favor certain groups or individuals.”

But Malacañang, denying the allegations, maintained that the ordered closure “was intended to preserve the island for the next coming generations, to be recognized and be remembered as the paradise island.”

Closure rules

During Boracay’s six-month shutdown period, identified tourists—even guests of the island residents—will not be allowed to come into Boracay and will be stopped at the Jetty Port in Malay, Aklan.

Residents, workers, and resort owners, meanwhile, must have government-issued IDs to be allowed entry into the island. 

Foreign residents, likewise, will be checked. They are also banned from swimming anywhere on the island except at Angol Beach from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Members of the media, on the other hand, will be allowed entry subject to prior approval from the Department of Tourism (DOT).

The government said there will only be one transportation entry and exit point into Boracay, but has yet to announce where. There should also be no floating structures 15 kilometers from the shoreline.

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing III issued the initial guidelines on Thursday. Additional details are expected to be released next week.

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