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CONGRESS RESOLUTION DISMISSED

Palace rules out Boracay casino construction

Malacañang has dismissed moves by two lawmakers to investigate President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to close Boracay and denied that the government had allowed the construction of a casino resort on the island.

Opposition Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV on Wednesday filed a resolution asking the Senate Committee on Tourism to probe the six-month closure order that, he claimed, would allow the speedier construction of a casino in Boracay.

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At the House of Representatives, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate filed House Resolution No. 1806, asking the committees on natural resources and ecology to “step in to prevent any more damage to Boracay and to the people relying on the commerce of the island.”

‘Ironic and intriguing’

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Zarate said it was “ironic and intriguing” that the government would allow a Chinese company to build a $500-million casino resort in Boracay when the closure order was meant to rehabilitate the island.

But presidential spokesperson Harry Roque insisted that no casino would be built in Boracay, telling reporters in a message: “Boracay closed to tourists and no casinos in Boracay. Period.”

Before flying to China for the Boao Forum for Asia on Monday, Mr. Duterte said he was opposed to the construction of a casino in Boracay. He would convert the world-famous island into a land reform area after its rehabilitation, he added.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. on March 21 granted a provisional license to Macau-based Galaxy Entertainment allowing it to process construction permits for a casino hotel.

Capacity exceeded

Shortly after, the government said it was closing Boracay because of environmental degradation.

“Allowing the entry of this mega casino resort (will) … add more burden to the island and its people and environment,” Zarate said, adding that Boracay’s tourist-handling capacity had been exceeded in 2010 or 2011.

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In 2009, an average of 9,362 visitors flocked to the island every day. Today, it is hosting an average of 14,182 visitors daily, Zarate added, quoting figures from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

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TAGS: Antonio Trillanes IV, Boracay casino project, Boracay cleanup, Boracay closure, Carlos Isagani Zarate, Rodrigo Duterte
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