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Duterte: No plan to approve casino project in Boracay

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday clarified that there is no plan so far for the government to entertain a casino project in the Boracay island.

"Wala akong plano diyan [na] casino-casino. Tama na 'yan kasi sobra na. Casino dito, casino doon. Give it to the people who need it most," he said in a press conference in Davao City before heading out to China.

"In the meantime, there's no plan. My order was to clean it up. So mag-clean, sarado. There's one way in, one way out," he said.

This comes as Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. and its local partner Leisure and Resorts World Corp. announced plans to build a $500-million casino resort in the Boracay island.

The casino has already secured a provisional license from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR), but has yet to submit the necessary applications for clearances and permits to the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu last week expressed disapproval on the project, hinting that the island is not ideal for such types of developments.

"I never said anything about building anything or even a nipa hut there. What I said is that that island itself is owned by the government," Duterte said.

"I've said it before — agricultural 'yan, pati forestal. Unless there is a law or a proclamation of the President setting aside anything there, any inch of land maybe, then that could be alright for all those people to come in," he added.

In the same press conference, Duterte said Boracay would be placed under land reform and would be given to farmers once the island's six-month rehabilitation is completed.

"'Yung mga casino, who owns the casino? Hotels? Big ones? Who owns them? 'Yung mga mayaman, pati mga dayo. Eh agricultural man ['yung lupa], eh 'di ibalik ko sa farmers," he said. —KBK, GMA News