Chinese firm's Filipino partner denies Boracay casino plan dropped

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 18) — The Filipino partner of Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group says it has not scrapped its plans to build a casino on Boracay, contrary to the government's announcement.

Leisure & Resorts World Corporation (LRWC) on Wednesday said it is still in talks with the Chinese firm. . According to the company's General Information Sheet posted on the web site of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Abelardo "Albee" B. Benitez is the biggest individual stockholder owning 11.24 percent as of July 29, 2016.

"Both parties have not reached any final decision regarding its planned Boracay resort project," it said in a statement. "Contrary to claims that Galaxy has 'abandoned' its planned Boracay project, no such announcement has been made nor communicated with PAGCOR."

Officials of an inter-agency task force ordered to rehabilitate Boracay said Tuesday that Galaxy told them they are no longer building the casino on the island. Tourism Assistant Secretary Ricky Alegre also said Galaxy officials told them it 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 told a media briefing in Boracay on Tuesday.

LRWC said the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) should be included in the changes in plans as it granted the provisional license to construct the casino.

"Following protocol, no change in plans or project location would be made without prior consultation and agreement with PAGCOR," it said.

Alegre said Galaxy and LRWC have to go through the entire process of getting a new provisional license from PAGCOR again if they're changing the casino's location.

In late March, PAGCOR issued a provisional license to Galaxy and its local partner LRWC to build a $500-million (P26 billion) "integrated resort" on Boracay. The companies acquired 23 hectares of land in Boracay's Barangay Manoc-Manoc. PAGCOR allowed the companies to process construction permits.

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

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