Why urban planner opposes casino-resort in Boracay

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 24 2018 04:39 PM

Boracay island. Nony Basco, ABS-CBN News/file photo

MANILA- Architect and urban planner Felino "Jun" Palafox on Saturday criticized the plan to build a casino-resort in Boracay island amid government's efforts to rehabilitate the top tourist destination.

Palafox said construction should not be allowed on Boracay's white-sand beaches since it will damage the quality of the sand.

"It might be the wrong land use at the wrong place at the wrong time on a personal basis and a professional basis," Palafox told ANC.

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The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp recently granted a "provisional license" to Macau casino giant Galaxy Entertainment and its Filipino partner, Leisure and Resorts World Corp, to build a 23-hectare casino-resort worth $500 million on the island.

Boracay tourism stakeholders have also expressed dismay over the planned casino construction.

Boracay Foundation board member Connie Helgen said the island, known for its picturesque waters and sunsets, should not be marketed as a gambling destination.

"Boracay island is for beach lovers. Boracay is a wholesome destination. Why go to Boracay to play casino? There are so many casinos in Manila and in Macau," Helgen said.

The government has tapped Palafox's team to help rehabilitate Boracay during the planned shutdown of the island. 

Palafox is proposing a rehabilitation plan which features more eco-friendly structures.    

If he was to have his way, Palafox said it might be better to build the casino on the mainland in the town of Malay in Aklan.

The veteran architect also agreed that there should be a limit to the number of tourists allowed in Boracay.

"So many plans have been done in Boracay but the institutions are not in place and there is issue of governance in all hierarchy of government," he said.

Three government agencies have recommended the closure of Boracay island to tourists starting April 26 to give way to rehabilitation efforts.

The cleanup comes after President Rodrigo Duterte's criticism of the tourist destination's environmental woes.