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Galaxy Entertainment still on track to open Boracay casino

The plan of Macau-based Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. and local partner Leisure and Resorts World Corp. to build a casino-resort complex in Boracay island is on track despite the island’s six-month closure for rehabilitation.

“The plan has not been delayed by the closure of the island,” LRWC vice president for legal affairs Katrina Nepomuceno told reporters on the sidelines of the company’s annual stockholders’ meeting in Pasay City on Friday.

“We are not really affected by the island’s closure because we were able to finish what we need to do prior to the closing,” Nepomuceno said.

The company was able to acquire a 23-hectare property in Barangay Manoc-Manoc, before the island was ordered closed to tourists on April 26 for an environmental cleanup and rehabilitation.

A land survey, confirming that the property is alienable and disposable, was completed, Nepomuceno noted.

“Basically, right now... we’ve been working on the initial plans for the resort development. So continuously we’ve been discussing with Galaxy Entertainment Group, with the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources), and other government agencies,” she said.

LRWC is also working closely with the Boracay task force to get progress updates on rehabilitation works.

“We would like to make that our plans be compliant with all the environmental requirements of the government,” Nepomuceno noted.

“It is actually very helpful that the DENR is doing all of these the investigations, testing... We are actually getting feedback from the government kung anong meron sa isla, identifying kung saan ‘yung problematic areas, and it is actually helping us to build our plans. So hopefully when it reopens we can move along,” she said.

Asked when the actual construction of the casino-resort project will begin, Nepomuceno said there is no definite so far as the company is still working with government agencies on the requirements before they can start.

However, she emphasized that there has been no actual delay and the original target to open for business by 2021 is achievable.

Despite repetitive remarks from President Rodrigo Duterte that no casino will be built in Boracay, LRWC is sure that the project will push through.

“Where am I getting the confidence? Because the President has also said he wants to maintain Boracay as a prime tourist destination. The fact remains there is a property and our partner has a license,” Nepomuceno said.

"We are still partners with them (Galaxy), we are continuously talking and discussing together with them and drawing plans moving forward."

In March, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. issued a provisional gaming license to Boracay Philippines Resort and Leisure Corp., a subsidiary formed by LRWC and Galaxy Entertainment for the casino project.

As for the plan to place Boracay under agrarian reform, Nepomuceno said the company is still waiting for a definitive issuance regarding the matter from the Department of Agrarian Reform. —VDS, GMA News