DILG Asec appealing to Duterte: Don't allow Boracay casinos

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 26) — A Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) official is not keen on building casinos on Boracay -- and he plans to take it up with President Rodrigo Duterte.

Speaking to The Source on Monday, Assistant Secretary for Plans and Programs Epimaco Densing III said it would be better to have the casino on the mainland instead.

"I am against a casino being put up on the island," said Densing. "Boracay is supposed to be for recreation and relaxation, not for people to go there to gamble."

"President Duterte is open to suggestions and he listens. I'll really suggest huwag ilagay ang casino diyan [not to put the casino there]," he added. "Never mind if I lose my job... but I will be very vocal."

Densing added that Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, Interior officer in charge Eduardo Año, and Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo shared the same personal opinions.

"The secretaries have their opinions - maybe you can ask them - pero pareho sa akin iyon [but they're the same as mine]," he said.

Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group (GEG) got the green light for a casino and integrated resort from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation earlier in March.

The Leisure & Resorts World Corporation (LRWC) on March 20 said its subsidiary, GEG, has acquired 23 hectares of land in Boracay's Barangay Manoc-Manoc, which is located opposite the white beach often visited by tourists.

Related: Macau casino operator, local gaming firm to build 'integrated resort' on Boracay

The news comes amid a proposed six-month closure of the island starting on April 26. Densing pegged losses in revenue between P18 to P20 billion. 

The proposal of a shutdown has sparked concerns over the the loss of livelihoods and income of locals.

Densing posed a reminder that the casino still had to obtain an environmental clearance certificate before getting a local permit, which he said could take a year and a half.

"Kukuha sila ng [They have to get an] environmental impact assessment. They have to consult the people on the island," said Densing.

He also warned local officials of Malay town not to issue local permits if environmental requirements were not met.

The DILG is preparing charges of serious neglect of duty against local officials.

Related: DILG to file charges vs. Boracay local officials

The scramble to clean up the beach destination came after President Duterte called it "a cesspool," and threatened to shut it down permanently if pollution would not be fixed.