Rodrigo Duterte Takes Aim at Boracay

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Philippines President Duterte speaking.

The casino business in the Philippines is threaten by President Rodrigo Duterte. Recently, he announced that the licenses of operating casinos will be revoked, posing an existential threat to the entire industry. He continues in the same rhetoric.

Duterte and the Boracay Casino Industry

The Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has said that he won’t need an executive order in order to shut down the Boracay casino resort island. According to Mr. Duterte, he could shut down the entire island’s casino industry at once, state media reported.

His announcement is the latest instalment in the anti-casino sentiment which he has endorsed as part of his populist campaign.

However, Mr. Duterte’s stance is also an interesting one as it goes against the grain of what Philippine Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra advised the President recently. The news was also reported by international media in conformation of Mr. Duterte’s new position on casinos.

According to Mr. Guevarra, an executive order would be needed to carry out Mr. Duterte’s intentions. The Justice addressed a letter to the President in which he outlined the right course of action. Based on that letter, the President could issue an order and have the gaming regulator in the country, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR), order the shut down of casinos on Boracay.

Meanwhile, the Philippine News Agency (PNA) reported that Mr. Duterte has been sharing with his MPs and ministers that no casinos would be allowed in Boracay, because local sentiment was against them, highlighting the President’s proclivity to act on no well-founded argument.

The Consequences for Business

Following Mr. Duterte’s own statement, the PNA also quoted Mr. Guevarra saying that, naturally, the President could indeed limit the scope of the industry, but the best course of action would be to do so via an executive order which will lay the foundations of a legislative framework for future reference.

The president has power and tools to stop casino operations in Boracay. The only advantage of an executive order is that it sets long-term policy and provides formal framework for all governmental actions on the matter.

Mr. Guevarra had a change of hurt that coincided with the new stance of the President himself whereby Mr. Duterte could indeed ban the industry without seeking the recommended legal recourse.

Meanwhile, a number of established brands can be affected. The Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. arrived in March, claiming a license from PAGCOR. The company has been looking into the possibility of building a $500-billion casino resort in partnership with AB Leisure Exponent Inc.

Even the arrival of multi-million investment projects promising to create thousands of jobs have not been enough to assuage the President’s ill-will. Building on his main argument that the industry is vile and not loved by the locals, Mr. Duterte continues to ignore business opportunity and maintain his chosen role of a leader of the people.

Clamping down on high-paying operators, however, has its dangers and certainly resonates badly with future potential investors across multiple sectors.

Boracay recently reopened after six months of a shut-down caused by sewage problems that required authorities to clean the island from the hazardous waste.

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