Malacañang defends $500-M Boracay casino-resort

Published March 22, 2018, 4:26 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos 

Malacañang defended the government’s approval of the construction of a $500-million integrated resort in Boracay even after the President Duterte’s order to rehabilitate the popular beach island due to environmental woes.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the statement after netizens slammed the government for supposedly using Boracay’s environmental problems to close down and rehabilitate the island when its true intention is to prepare it for the casino-resort.

Presidential Spokesperson Atty. Harry Roque (YANCY LIM/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesperson Atty. Harry Roque

Macau casino giant Galaxy Entertainment and its Filipino partner, Leisure and Resorts World Corp., are expected to start construction on a 23-hectare property in Boracay next year after they signed a provisional license with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

According to Roque, the size of the infrastructure will not matter as it will be probably required to have its own sewage treatment plan (STP), drainage system, and maybe even a zero discharge policy.

“I don’t think so. Because if they build a facility as big as they want to build, perhaps the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) will require what Shangri La Boracay has, which is zero discharge,” Roque said when asked during the Palace press briefing about people’s sentiment that Boracay’s closure is for another reason.

Zero discharge, according to Roque, refers to the reusing of all wastewater, treating it and reusing it either for flushing or gardening purposes.

“So an establishment as big as this casino will probably required to have not just an STP, but the recycling treatment facility,” he said.

“So the size will not matter as long as the necessary infrastructure are there,” he added.

Roque said that Boracay is being closed down because the government aims for it to have a sustainable environment as envisioned by the former first lady Imelda Marcos.

“Well, we’re fixing it so that it becomes a sustainable environment. It can be sustainable, it can support huge developments as it was originally envisioned during the time of Imelda Marcos,” he said.

According to the Palace official, the Marcos government issued a Presidential Decree declaring Boracay as a tourism reserve. However, they failed to build the necessary infrastructure.

“They should have built the infrastructure when Boracay was pristine. Perhaps they did not envision that Boracay would be the best beach in the world attracting this much crowd to day,” Roque said.


Roque also said that he does not know how Boracay’s closure will affect the construction of the casino-resort, but acknowledged that there is a moratorium for new developments in the island.

“Warning to the developer, they should know that all their development plans hinges on what the President will decide upon on the issue of Boracay,” he said.

“But right now, there’s a moratorium on new improvements so they can’t build even if they wanted to today because of the moratorium,” he added.