MANILA—President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he will allow a casino to be built in Boracay, reversing his previous stance over the tourist destination because he said the government needed more funds now.
"Kung magsabi kayo, 'Itong si Duterte, akala ko ayaw mong sugal. Tapos ngayon 'yung sa Boracay, 'yung gambling house doon, ine-encourage mong buksan para sa tourists.' Patawarin na po ninyo ako for the contradiction," the President said in a taped briefing.
"Ngayon po wala tayong pera. Kung saan man tayo makakuha ng pera, kukunin ko. Kung diyan sa gambling, so be it."
(If you say, 'Duterte, I thought you hated gambling. Now you want a gambling house in Boracay? You're encouraging the tourists.' Forgive me for the contradiction. We don't have money now. Where we can get money, I will get it. If it will be from gambling, so be it.)
"Ngayon kung nagkamali ako, tama 'yan nagkamali ako. Kung wala akong isang salita diyan, tama 'yan, wala akong isang salita diyan. Pero kailangan ko ng pera para patakbuhin ang gobyerno kasi marami akong gagastusan," he added.
(If I'm wrong, then I'm wrong. If I didn't keep my word, that's right I didn't. But I need money to run the government because I'm going to have a lot of expenses.)
In 2018, Duterte ordered that Boracay should be casino-free when the island reopened after it was shuttered to tourists to rehabilitate the sewage system and remove allegedly illegal structures.
Duterte also had said that he "hate[s] gambling."
Last year, he rejected suggestions to suspend offshore gambling activities in the country, most of which are Chinese-run, amid allegations of corruption and other crimes hounding the industry.