MANILA - Critics of a proposal to open a casino in Boracay must have an open mind, its mayor said Thursday, adding that the island has a system in place for casino tourists.
"After ng closure, pinag-usapan na ang Boracay maging family tourist destination. Ngayon iba na naman ang magiging direction so tingnan natin ano ang mangyari d'yan. Minsan ang pagiisip kasi natin pag sa casino iba na ang pananaw natin," Malay town mayor Frolibar Bautista said in an ABS-CBN's Teleradyo interview.
Billionaire Andrew Tan earlier said his company Megaworld is ready to proceed with a casino project in Boracay following President Rodrigo Duterte’s announcement that gambling will be allowed on the famous resort island.
Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation Chair Andrea Domingo earlier confirmed to media that Duterte had given the go signal for two casino projects in Boracay Island, by Megaworld and Macau-based Galaxy Entertainment Group.
Tan said they are ready to push forward with Boracay Newcoast, a casino project which was previously shelved due to a casino ban on the island ordered by Duterte.
Mayor Bautista noted casino operations will increase funds as the island was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. The local government will get 5 percent of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation income from the casino and the employment it would generate, he said.
"Meron na tayong system kung paano tanggapin at paano natin iimplement ang minimum health protocols sa Boracay," he said.
(We already have a system on how to accept tourists and implement health protocols in Boracay.)
"Talagang nahirapan na kami pag walang turista."
(We really struggle without tourists.)
The mayor said locals who oppose the new policy should keep an open mind.
"Nag-operate ang casino sa Boracay for how many years wala naman masamang nangyari sa Boracay. Depende naman siguro yan how we manage atsaka paano natin imonitor ang operation n'yan kasi ang casino for tourists only," he said.
(A casino operated in Boracay for how many years and nothing bad happened to the island. It will depend on how we manage and manage its operation because the casino is for tourists only.)
"May process naman doon yan kasi di naman basta bibigyan ng permit kung walang license sa PAGCOR or walang endorsement sa council."
(It went through a process, it would not have been given a permit if it doesn't have a license from PAGCOR or has no endorsement from the council.)