By Jelly Musico
MANILA – Department of Local and Interior Government (DILG) Officer-in-Charge Secretary Eduardo Año on Wednesday assured the public that the government will not allow construction of a casino in Boracay Island.
“First of all, the President (Rodrigo Duterte) had already decided and announced that no construction of casino Boracay will be allowed,” Año said in an open forum of the 2nd pre-State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) 2018 Forum at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.
Año said even the Cabinet secretaries particularly Boracay Rehabilitation Inter-Agency Task Force chief, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, oppose construction of casino in the popular tourist destination.
“The people go to Boracay to swim, not to gamble. So there will be no casino there,” Año said, drawing applause from the audience.
Recently, Macau-based Galaxy Entertainment Group and its Filipino partner, AB Leisure Exponent Inc., revealed a plan to build USD500-million integrated resort-casino complex in a 23-hectare property in Barangay Manoc-Manoc in Boracay Island.
Duterte has repeatedly expressed his stand against any casino in Boracay, saying it would not benefit the Filipinos.
He even said he would give Boracay back to the island’s natives by way of land reform once a six-month rehabilitation is finished since it is “a forestal and agricultural land”.
The government has closed down Boracay to tourist on April 26, the same day Duterte declared state of calamity in three barangays (villages) of the island.
Duterte had described Boracay as a “cesspool” due to untreated wastewater that hotels and other establishments allegedly dump into the sea.
As part of the rehabilitation efforts, the task force is improving the island’s sewerage system to restore the pristine waters of the famous beach destination. (with report from Nicole de Leon,OJT/PNA)