HK firm: $1.5-B resort project with Nayong Pilipino to push through

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 9) — The construction of an integrated resort on the land leased from Nayong Pilipino Foundation in Parañaque City will continue for now despite the pronouncements of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Hong Kong-based firm Landing International Development Limited on Tuesday said it has yet to receive a termination notice from the government. The statement was posted on its website after the announcement of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque that their lease with Nayong Pilipino will be terminated over corruption allegations.

"The company has no knowledge of and has not received any official communications from the government of the Philippines in relation to any of the allegations," it said.

It added, "The group is fully committed to continuing with its planned investment in (NayonLanding) and the development of the project."

Landing said it will wait for official word from the government.

"In case the company receives any further communication from the government with regard to the lease of the project, the company will take all necessary action to amicably resolve all issues and to ensure that the project will proceed as planned," it said.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR)  granted the Hong Kong firm's subsidiary, Landing Philippines, a provisional license by to build the "NayonLanding" integrated resort in Entertainment City in Parañaque. The 95.7-hectare resort will house a casino, an indoor cultural theme park, and a waterpark. The development is estimated at $1.5 billion (around P79.5 billion) and is expected to open by 2022.

Roque on Thursday said the lease review by the Department of Justice will most likely lead to the termination of the "flawed" contract between NPF and Landing Philippines.

"When the President says it's flawed, then obviously the order to review is towards possibly putting an end to the contract," he said in a media briefing.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said after the review, the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) will submit a report with recommendations on the government's proper course of action.

"I've instructed OGCC to immediately review all relevant facts, re-evaluate and examine all contracts, agreements, and other documents pertaining to this questioned transaction, including the legal opinions previously rendered by OGCC to Nayong Pilipino," he said on Thursday.

Nayong Pilipino corruption allegations

On Tuesday — the same time of the groundbreaking rites of NayonLanding — Roque announced the firing of the entire board of the Nayong Pilipino Foundation (NPF) over a "flawed" lease deal which was "grossly disadvantageous" to the government.

Related: Duterte fires all Nayong Pilipino officers, board members

Roque said the lease was originally supposed to be for 70 years, later reduced to 50 years, and eventually brought down to 25 years.

Duterte on Wednesday said the Nayong Pilipino officials shouldn't have granted a 75-year lease contract for a casino.

"Yesterday I fired the council of Nayong Pilipino. All of them. You do not give gambling licenses or franchise for 75 years," he said in a speech.

Landing International denied the allegations, saying the lease between NPF and Landing Philippines is only for 25 years and is renewable for another 25 years.

"To the best knowledge of the company, the lease is legal, valid, and enforceable," it said.

NPF Chairperson Patricia Ocampo also denied the corruption accusations against the Foundation.

The Commission on Audit earlier noted that there was no public bidding to build, operate, and maintain the resort casino and no land appraisal or invitation for competitive offers, contrary to law.

Senator Win Gatchalian called on newly-installed Ombudsman Samuel Martirez to probe the "scam" that is the NayonLanding resort.