Government members attempt to protect Boracay from casinos

Boracay may not have casinos when it reopens to publicCabinet members of the President Rodrigo Duterte-led administration are asking gambling and other regulatory bodies to prevent casinos from operating in Boracay, as the Filipino resort island reopens to the public.

Boracay was shut down to tourists last April to enable a clean-up of the area, which had degraded due to unrestricted tourist development and commercial activities. Illegal structures were removed while the sewerage system was rehabilitated.

There were several claims that Duterte had a financial interest on the island prior to the start of the rehabilitation works, which he denied.

Cabinet members, who had championed the clean-up, are therefore calling for the seizure and stoppage of any gambling activities.

President Duterte had previously demanded the island stay casino-free after rehabilitation works are completed and opened to the public. He also revealed government-owned lands in Boracay would be given to farmers.

The heads of the Boracay inter-agency rehabilitation task force, in a letter to the Chairperson of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) Andrea Domingo, asked him to ban all gaming franchise and provisional licenses on the island.

The letter, which cited a directive from the president, was signed by Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu and Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.

This directive comes at a time when Macau casino giant Galaxy Entertainment and its Filipino partner, Leisure and Resorts World Corp, plans to construct a $500 million integrated resort on the island. The two firms signed a provisional license with PAGCOR last March.

Duterte is an anti-gambling campaigner who has taken several stringent measures to reduce the growth of gambling in the country. This has led to the cancellation of some gambling deals since coming into power.

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