Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (pictured in a file photo) has affirmed – according to one of his administration’s senior officials – that no casino will be permitted at Nayong Pilipino Foundation’s planned “cultural park” project within Entertainment City, in Parañaque, Manila.
The site in question was originally leased to Hong Kong-listed casino promoter Landing International Development Ltd. But that company said in a September 15 filing that the relevant Philippine authorities had declared void the lease that had been negotiated with the foundation. Entertainment City is a zone that has otherwise generally been earmarked for large-scale private-sector casino schemes.
Philippine media outlet Business Mirror reported on Friday – citing an interview with the country’s Tourism Secretary, Bernadette Puyat – that Mr Duterte had mentioned during a cabinet meeting on October 11 that an outright ban on any casino on the land would be applied.
The planned cultural park project of the foundation should include things that “celebrate Filipino identity and culture”, the Business Mirror cited Ms Puyat as saying. It would be a government-led project that, once constructed, would be put on offer for operation and management by the private sector, the tourism official noted.
Landing International had said in its September 15 filing the firm had been given approximately six months to find an alternative site for a casino resort it planned for Manila, or it would risk having its provisional gaming licence for that country revoked or suspended.
The devel0pment firm had previously stated it intended to build a US$1.5-billion casino resort and theme park, to be called NayonLanding, on the site in question.
But it emerged on the day of ground breaking for the scheme in late August last year that Mr Duterte had sacked the entire board of Nayong Pilipino Foundation, amid allegations of irregularities in relation to the leasing deal. Mr Duterte’s spokesperson, Harry Roque, said at the time that the 70-year land lease deal was “grossly disadvantageous” to the Philippine government.
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