No casinos in Boracay as island reopens

AKLAN, Philippines – Government officials confirmed no casino is operating in Boracay Island as it reopens on Friday, October 26, after the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) agreed to revoke the franchises of casino operators there.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra wants President Rodrigo Duterte, in the long run, to issue an executive order banning casinos in Boracay.

"No casino is existing in Boracay Island, and we intend to implement that regulation continuously,"said Interior Secretary Eduardo Año in a press briefing Friday.

Año recalled that on October 22, Pagcor Chair Andrea Domingo "issued a cease and desist order to stop the casino" of Alpha Allied Holdings Limited operating in Movenpick Boracay. The casino there is now padlocked, Año said. 

Pagcor had granted licenses to the existing Alpha Allied Holdings Limited and a provisional one to Macau-based Galaxy Entertainment Group

Leisure & Resorts World Corporation, Galaxy's local partner, already purchased a land in Boracay but has not yet built physical structures. (WATCH: The place where a casino will rise in Boracay)

Pagcor has also indefinitely suspended Galaxy's license.

No-casino policy

The government is keen on its no-casino policy in Boracay.

Guevarra said he has asked the Department of Tourism (DOT) to urge the President to issue an executive order banning casinos in Boracay.

This, he said, will provide an overall legal framework that will set the no-casino policy.

In the meantime, Guevarra said the DOT, local governments, and Pagcor may exercise their powers in blocking the entry of casinos.

"There are other measures that can be taken by the government – like the DOT exercising its accreditation powers, the local government units on the matter of issuing licenses or not issuing them, or Pagcor granting franchises," Guevarra said.

"These are the mechanics by which this policy can be implemented but to provide a general framework, the DOJ has recommended the issuance of an executive order," Guevarra added.

He noted that franchises granted by the government to casino operators can be revoked any time "because it is a privilege granted by the state" – something Pagcor already did.

Año said that for now, Duterte has given him a "specific instruction" to stop casinos from operating in Boracay.

"For the existing casinos, the President gave specific instructions to me. No casinos shall be operating, even the existing ones," Año explained.

This is why the Boracay Inter-agency Task Force wrote to Pagcor to cancel casino licenses.

In April, as Duterte appeared "clueless" about the casino project, Malacañang said no casinos will be built on the island.  (READ: FACT CHECK: Clueless about Boracay casino? Duterte discussed it with owners–

Aika Rey

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