Chinese company no longer building casino on Boracay

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 17) — No casino will be built on Boracay, authorities said on Tuesday.

Interior Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing III said the construction of the casino on the island will definitely not push through.

Tourism Assistant Secretary Ricky Alegre said Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group is looking for a different location to construct the casino.

"Galaxy has said they are now looking for another venue. The inter-agency task force is happy that they are looking," he said during a media briefing in Boracay.

The controversial proposal sparked concern as it came amid a plan to shut down Boracay for half a year due to environmental concerns. The closure begins on April 26.

Senate Tourism Committee Chair Nancy Binay on Tuesday said Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) should retract the provisional license given to Galaxy to build a casino on Boracay.

In late March, PAGCOR issued a provisional license to Galaxy and its local partner Leisure & Resorts World Corporation to build a $500-million (P26 billion) "integrated resort" on Boracay. It allowed the companies to process construction permits.

But Alegre said Galaxy has to go through the entire process of getting the provisional license from PAGCOR again if they're changing the casino's location.

"When they find (a new venue), they just have to go through the process of accreditation and securing a new PAGCOR provisional authority. They have to repeat the whole process," Alegre said.

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.

President Rodrigo Duterte has maintained there was no plan to put up a casino on the island.

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