Listen to Boracay residents before building casino – Senate President

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The PNP cited coordination with the local government of Malay, Aklan and other stakeholders as the reasons for the lower crime rate in Boracay this year.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 28) — Senate President Koko Pimentel on Tuesday called on a Chinese gaming operator to work with Boracay residents and local government officials before it builds a casino on the island.

Pimentel said those who will be affected by the plan to build a $500-million (P26 billion) casino should let their voices be heard.

"Let the people take part in the decision if a casino should be built in their locality," he said in a media release.

He added the local government officials should also be involved.

"I urge the councils of LGUs: Let your people be heard. Consult them, pass a resolution reflecting their concerns, and present the result to PAGCOR and would-be investors," Pimentel said.

The Senate President also said, "Federalism is about empowering the people by involving them in the decision-making process. Even if the shift to Federalism has not happened yet, there is no legal impediment to adopting the principle of consultation."

Pimentel made the statement in response to the growing opposition on the plan of Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group to build a 23-hectare gaming complex on the island of Boracay.

Officials tasked to address the environmental issues hounding the island also expressed their apprehensions amid the government's plan to temporarily close Boracay.

Interior Officer-in-Charge and Boracay inter-agency task force member Eduardo Año does not agree with plans to build a casino in Boracay.

"For my personal stand, I do not think that the casino should be placed there kasi I have been to several resorts in other countries and wala naman akong nakitang casino dun, so sana wag na lang sana sa Boracay [I haven't seen any casinos there so I hope they don't build one in Boracay]," he said on Tuesday.

Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Assistant Secretary for Plans and Programs Epimaco Densing III also appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to stop the building of the casino.

"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," he told CNN Philippines on Monday.

He added Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu and Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo share the same personal opinions.

Galaxy Entertainment Group vowed to build an "eco-friendly and high-end" resort.

Related: Chinese-led company to build 'eco-friendly' high-end Boracay resort  

The integrated resort-casino will occupy 23 hectares of land. Its 250 rooms and other amenities will be constructed within the next three years.