HK firm's $1.5-B Nayong Pilipino resort to push through

MANILA, Philippines – Hong Kong firm Landing International Development Limited will push through with its resort project with the Nayong Pilipino Foundation (NPF), despite drawing the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a statement on Tuesday, August 7, Landing said the resort project called "Nayon Landing" in Parañaque City "is still pushing through" as the lease contract with the government-owned and controlled corporation NPF is "still valid and effective."

The statement came after Duterte fired all the members of the NPF board and its management on Tuesday, while the project groundbreaking was ongoing.

"[T]he recent decision of the Philippine government to replace members of the NPF Board of Trustees did not affect the validity of the subject contract of lease," Landing said in a statement.

"Unless the lease contract is cancelled or nullified on legal grounds by the courts, Landing has reason to believe that it is a valid leaseholder and can legally proceed with its project," it added.

The resort project, set to open in 2022, is "Filipino cultural theme park" in a 9.5-hectare lot owned by NPF at Entertainment City in Parañaque that will house a 1,500-room hotel, an indoor water park, and a casino.

What's the deal about? Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Tuesday said that the deal was for a "ridiculously long period of time of 70 years," and that the President wants the contract reviewed.

Duterte claimed that the approval of NPF board allowing the firm to lease a land would cause the government to have losses of at least P517 million annually. The President estimated losses up to P25 billion in 50 years.

But Landing clarified that the executed lease of contract with the NPF is "for a period of 25 years only commencing from the date of execution of the contract of lease."

Landing also said the term of lease shall be for a period of 50 years "subject to and upon approval" of their application as allowed by the Tourism Act of 2009 "as an incentive to encourage foreign investments."

Sacked NPF chairperson Patricia Ocampo clarified that monthly rentals were pegged at P360 per square meter and that advance rental amount was placed at P827.05 million.

NPF will also receive an additional monthly rental equivalent to 10% of net profits from the operations of its attractions and theme parks after taxes exclusive of the value added tax.

"We negotiated what we believed then, and believe now, are most advantageous terms and conditions for the government and the people," Ocampo said.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) has recently granted Landing Philippines a provisional license to operate a casino on 2022.

In November 2016, the National Economic and Development Board approved the "New Nayong Pilipino" public private partnership project, which was originally conceived as a tourism facility to promote Philippine culture and heritage.  – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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