MANILA - Some Nayong Pilipino Foundation officials accepted a sponsored trip to South Korea from Landing International months before the agency awarded a $1.5 billion casino-theme park project to the Hong Kong developer, a board member of the Filipino firm said Friday.
President Rodrigo Duterte sacked the entire Nayong Pilipino Board this week over its 70-year lease deal with Landing. This includes Marie Fema Duterte, whose husband is a distant relative of the President.
Citing official records, Marie Fema Duterte said board executives went to South Korea on September 29, 2017 upon the invitation of Landing.
"Nagsakay sila ng private plane owned by Landing na nag-invite sa kanila kasi may shino-showcase daw doon sa Korea na theme park na ipapakita sa kanila," Duterte said.
(They were on a private plane owned by Landing, which invited them to showcase their theme park in Korea.)
She said the foundation's officials returned to the country in October and a deal was reached on Nov. 7. She did not identify those who joined the sponsored trip.
"Hindi ko alam kung tumanggap sila kasi wala naman ako doon nung nag-usap sila. Wala ako sa meeting, wala akong nakita o narinig so I can't say," she said.
(I don't know if they received anything because I wasn't there. I wasn't in that meeting. I didn't see or hear anything so I can't say.)
ABS-CBN News tried to get in touch with Nayong Pilipino Foundation and Landing International, but has yet to receive a reply from either parties.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the president was fuming "like a fire-breathing dragon" after reviewing the theme park project, which broke ground this week.
The Commission on Audit said the project did not undergo proper bidding and it might be undervalued.