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Duterte on gambling: ‘I do not want it’

President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday hit out at officials of the Nayong Pilipino Foundation whom he fired for entering into a supposedly disadvantageous lease deal with a Hong Kong-based developer.

Duterte wondered why the NPF granted a "gambling franchise" for "75 years" even as the NPF already clarified that it was a lease deal with a 25-year term.

"Yesterday I fired the council of Nayong Pilipino. All of them. You do not give gambling licenses or franchise for 75 years. You mean to say the child is born today and 75 years later he's that old," the President said in a speech during the 117th Police Service Anniversary celebration in Camp Crame, Quezon City. 

"I will not allow it. I hate gambling. I do not want it. There will be no casinos outside of what are existing. I'm not granting anything," he added.

Duterte has since ordered the Department of Justice to review the contract.

Hong Kong-based Landing International Development Ltd. said on Tuesday its $1.5-billion integrated casino resort that sits on NPF property in Parañaque City is still pushing through despite the dismissal of NPF officials.

"From the group’s view point, the recent decision of the Philippine government to replace members of the NPF board of trustees did not affect the validity of the subject contract of lease," Landing International said in a statement.

The lease terms between NPF and Landing International is for 25 years starting from the date of execution of the contract, not 70 years as alleged by critics, according to NPF chairperson Patricia Ocampo.

The monthly rentals were pegged at P360 per square meter, with an advanced payment of P827.05 million.

Landing International emphasized that the lease term under the contract between its wholly-owned subsidiary Landing Resorts Philippines Development Corp. and NPF will commence only on the date of execution of the contract.

This is the second casino project under fire from Duterte's government.

In April, the government shelved a plan by Macau's Galaxy Entertainment Group to build a $500 million integrated casino-resort on the holiday island of Boracay, just a month after the gaming regulator approved the project.

The government cited environmental concerns for the move. — RSJ, GMA News