MANILA, Philippines – Controversial Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada will be among the private investors financing about half of the government’s P12 billion expressway project that would lead to the upcoming casino complex at Pagcor Entertainment City.
The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Expressway 2 project was originally slated to end at Roxas Boulevard. But at investors’ requests, the road project was revised to extend to Diosdado Macapagal Avenue.
The extension means those coming from the planned Entertainment City will have access to the NAIA terminals, the Skyway and Makati in less than 16 minutes, explained Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson at the sidelines of a Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines Inc. (Finex) event on Wednesday, March 21.
Since the project will reduce travel time, Singson said that Entertainment City locators are willing to take up the P5 billion to P6 billion initial project cost, which government had originally agreed to shoulder.
“We now have the assurance that there will be an investment coming from the locators,” he said.
The locators include Sy-led Belle Corp, Razon-led Bloomberry Investments Holdings Inc, partners Genting Group and Alliance Global Group Inc., and Okada-led Universal Entertainment Corp.
Universal Entertainment was recently dragged into the news when its top shareholder, Kazuo Okada, was accused of bribing Pagcor’s officials who should be regulating the company’s upcoming casino.
Malacanang initially cleared current Pagcor chief Cristino Naguiat Jr., a former classmate of President Aquino, of any wrongdoing despite a finding of a former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director general that Okada shouldered several trips and shopping sprees of Naguiat, his family and their nanny, as well as other Pagcor officials in the Macau and Las Vegas hotel and casino establishments of Wynn Resorts.
After being elected on an anti-corruption platform President Aquino had promised public-private partnerships (PPPs) would be transparent and ethical.
Secretary Singson said Okada’s involvement is “the concern of Pagcor. Whether it’s Okada or some other investors coming from the Pagcor City, that’s for them to agree on. But we met with representatives of that group and they have no problem.”
The Entertainment City investors will fund half of the large-scale PPP, while the other half will come from whomever wins a bidding set for September, according to Singson.
He said some of the potential bidders are Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Investments, the new business partners CITRA and San Miguel Corp. consortium, as well as foreign investors he couldn’t disclose from China, Japan and Korea.
Singson said the highway should be finished in 2 to 3 years, so it would be available to Entertainment City visitors as soon as possible.
Bloombury is expected to open the first of the facilities in the casino complex. – Rappler.com