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Casino component of Isla dela Victoria project questioned

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram August 21,2018 - 10:40 PM

IS building a casino in Cebu City still allowed?

The Cebu City Government thinks so despite recent pronouncements from President Rodrigo Duterte to ban casinos in the country.

On August 8, President Duterte said he would no longer issue licenses for new casinos to operate in the country.

“I will not allow it. I hate gambling. I do not want it. There will be no casinos outside of what are existing here,” Duterte said in a speech during the 117th Police Service Anniversary at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

He cited the case of the Nayong Pilipino Foundation (NPF) where he fired all the agency’s board members over a “grossly disadvantageous” 70-year property lease contract.

On the very same date the President made the announcement, the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) – led council passed the resolution authorizing Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña to enter into a P18-billion joint venture agreement (JVA) with Universal Hotels and Resorts Inc. (UHRI).

UHRI, the development arm of the Gokongwei-owned JG Summit Holdings Corp., is set to construct an integrated resort within the eight-hectare Kawit Island property which now forms part of the South Road Properties (SRP).

Called Isla dela Victoria, it will be made up of not only a casino but also high-rise hotels, convention centers, luxury facilities, and an amphitheater.

Francisco Fernandez, Osmeña’s executive assistant, told reporters in a press interview that UHRI has managed to secure a permit from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) before the President declared a ban on casinos.

“They already got a permit from Pagcor in 2017 so we’re confident that the project will push through,” said Fernandez.

Members of the opposition United Barug Team Rama, who attempted to block the project’s fruition, earlier criticized the city administration for tolerating development firms who wish to construct casinos in Cebu City.

Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgar Labella warned Osmeña that having a casino in the city would be a contradiction to the President’s announcement.

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