President Rodrigo Duterte has instructed the Department of Justice (DoJ) to review a lease contract state agency Nayong Pilipino Foundation Inc. (NPFI) has entered into with Landing Resorts Philippines Development Corp. (LRPDC).
“The President said he has instructed Secretary Menardo Guevarra of DoJ to review the contract and the President described it a ‘flawed’ contract,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said on radio yesterday.
Roque said last Tuesday that the President has fired the entire NPFI board and management due to the lease deal which Mr. Duterte labeled as “gravely disadvantageous” to the government.
Under the lease contract, the LRPDC, a subsidiary of Hong Kong’s Landing International Development Ltd., seeks to develop a $1.5 -billion casino-resort in NPFI’s property in Entertainment City in Parañaque City which was formerly the Nayong Pilipino leisure complex.
Mr. Duterte ordered the relief of NPFI officials on the same day of the groundbreaking ceremony of the LRPDC project.
Last 2 May, NPFI director Maria Fema Duterte, a distant relative of the President, filed criminal and administrative complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman against her fellow officials, including chairman Patricia Yvette Ocampo, in connection with the lease contract with LRPDC.
Maria Fema alleged that the amount of the contract was disadvantageous to the government which, she said, stands to lose P25 billion in 50 years from the deal.
Fury of a dragon
Roque said the President was furious like a “fire-breathing dragon” when he announced the sacking of the NPFI officials during last Monday’s Cabinet meeting.
“Of course, we have seen the President making expletives in many occasions but this time, I saw the President like a fire-breathing dragon. He was really angry on what happened with Nayong Pilipino,” Roque said in an interview on dzMM.
Roque said Duterte told Cabinet members that public bidding should have been made since the leisure complex is not a project under the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).
“We are also wondering why it did not go through a public bidding because the only exception is if the idle land is owned by TIEZA (Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority) or a PEZA-accredited industry,” Roque said in a separate interview with dzRH.
“Aside from that, he (the President) has repeatedly said that his opposition to (a) new casino,” he added.