Duterte: No plan to put up Boracay casino

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 9) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said there is no plan to put up a casino on Boracay Island.

"Walang plano sa casino-casino. Tama na 'yan kasi sobra na. Casino dito, casino doon," he said in a media briefing before leaving for China for the Boao Forum for Asia.

[Translation: There is no plan for a casino. There are already too many casinos. It must stop.]

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation on March 21 granted a provisional license to a Chinese company to build a $500-million (P26 billion) hotel-casino on Boracay which will soon be closed for rehabilitation. It allowed Macau-based Galaxy Entertainment Group to process construction permits.

Duterte said the island is an agricultural land, adding Boracay will be a land reform area for farmers after the island's rehabilitation.

"In the meantime, there's no plan. My order was to clean it up. So mag-clean, sarado . There's one way in, one way out," he said.

Related: Listen to Boracay residents before building casino – Senate President

Some officials from the inter-agency group tasked to rehabilitate the island have expressed apprehension to building a casino.

Interior Officer-in-Charge and Undersecretary Eduardo Año said the task force was not consulted about the gaming business.

"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 March 27.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu gave a "no" when asked about plans to build a casino in Boracay.

"Dami namang pupuntahan niyan, bakit nilagay pa doon?" Cimatu said on March 30.

The island will be closed from tourists for six months beginning April 26 to make way for rehabilitation.