The Philippines’ Justice Secretary said today that President Duterte does not need an executive order, but one is highly recommended as the fastest way to a lasting casino ban
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte can prevent casino operations from being conducted on the Boracay Island even without an Executive Order (EO), Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told local news outlet ABS-CBN News earlier today.
Mr. Guevarra’s comments emerged a day after President Duterte himself pointed out that he did not need an EO to implement a no-casino policy on Boracay. The Philippines’ top official went on to say that it was the people of Boracay who did not want gambling venues in the popular tourism draw and that it was his duty to listen to what his people wanted and make sure there would be no casinos there.
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In today’s comments, Mr. Guevarra noted that President Duterte has the power and tools to ban casinos from operating on the island, which was recently reopened after a six-month environmental cleanup. However, the Justice Secretary added that an EO is still a measure he highly recommends as it “sets a long-term policy and provides a formal framework for all government actions pertaining to the subject matter.”
With his latest comments, Mr. Guevarra reiterated his opinion on the issue. Last month, the official penned a letter to Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat sayind that the Department of Tourism should urge President Duterte to issue an EO as it was “the most expedient and effective” means to stop gambling operations on the island.
Boracay has long been one of the most popular tourism destinations in the Philippines. According to official statistics, the island has annually welcomed more than 2 million tourists over the past several years.
The island was shuttered in late April for a six-month environmental cleanup, following the publication of an environmental review of the island back in February. The review found that many Boracay businesses had for years discharged untreated waste water directly into the sea and that a number of developments had been undertaken without the necessary construction permits being obtained.
Enraged by those findings, President Duterte called the island a cesspool and ordered its closure for a period of six months, during which an environmental cleanup would be carried out.
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President Duterte’s War on Casinos
News emerged shortly before Boracay’s closure that Macau hotel and casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Corp. and its local partner, Leisure and Resorts World Corporation, had secured a provisional license from PAGCOR, the country’s gambling regulator, for the construction of a $500-million resort on the island.
The announcement of Galaxy’s project enraged President Duterte, who has never been a big fan of gambling and has made that quite clear, even more. What followed was a new wave of his continued crackdown on everything gambling. The top official vowed to prevent the materialization of Galaxy’s casino scheme and to purge Boracay from all existing gambling operations.
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The island casino ban extended to the rest of the country as the President has repeatedly pointed out that there will be no new casinos anywhere in the Philippines.
He reiterated his intentions to prevent any proposed expansion of the nation’s casino industry yesterday, saying that the proliferation of gambling spurs growth in crime rates, including crimes related to drug dealing and kidnappings as well as financial crimes.
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