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DOT bows to Duterte OK of casino operation in Boracay

By: Christia Marie Ramos - Reporter / @CMRamosINQ - | September 03,2021 - 01:19 PM

REHAB RESULT Tourists enjoy a wider and cleaner beach after the six-month closure of Boracay in 2018. President Duterte reversed an earlier position not to open a casino joint in the resort island in Aklan, citing the need for more funds to address the pandemic. —JACK JARILLA

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT) will “follow” the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to allow the operation of a casino in Boracay, Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat told lawmakers.

During Friday’s committee deliberations on the DOT’s proposed 2022 budget, Puyat was asked by Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate on her position regarding Duterte’s decision to allow casino operations in the world-renowned island.

“That is the decision of the President, so we follow the President,” the DOT chief said in response.

Malacañang recently announced that Duterte has green-lighted the operation of a casino in Boracay.

Duterte, in a public address last Aug. 27, expressed willingness to put a casino on the island resort, citing the need for additional funds. This is a departure from his previous pronouncements against gambling.

But Puyat conceded that foreign travelers have been inquiring whether it is already safe to come to the resort-island once travel restrictions have been lifted.

“Right now, ang hinahanap po ng ating mga travelers abroad kung [what out travelers from abroad are looking for is] how safe it is here to come to the country when travel restrictions are lifted. Hinahanap po nila ngayon, let’s say kung bakunado na yung ating mga [What they’re looking at is if we have vaccinated our] tourism workers, which we are doing,” she said.

She further said the management of the casino will fall under the ambit of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor).

“When you talk about casinos, that is under the Pagcor … When it comes to the promotion of casinos, that is also under the Pagcor, which is not under the DOT. When we promote our country, we promote sand and beaches,” Puyat pointed out.

Pagcor has already said it will implement Duterte’s directive and lift a moratorium on the establishment of new casinos three years after the President put it in place.

However, some residents and business owners on the island have objected to Duterte’s decision to allow the operation of casinos there.

“Why not focus on vaccinations so that we can open up the island to tourists, especially foreign visitors?” one resident said.

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TAGS: Boracay, Casino, DOT, Duterte, PAGCOR, puyat

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