Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has thrown doubt over the construction of a $500m beachfront casino on the country’s Boracay island resort.
Concerns were raised as to the future of the Galaxy Entertainment Group venture, approved by the country’s regulator Pagcor in March, following comments made by Duterte on 9 April.
“I don’t have plans there for casinos,” said Duterte, referencing Boracay. “There are enough, there are too many. Casino here, casino there.”
The dismissal came days after it was announced the island would close for a six month environmental recovery period as of 26 April.
Galaxy had previously received assurance from Pagcor chair Andrea Domingo, who claimed the resort would not be affected by the closure as the company “have to build, opening is at least after three years.”
The latest claims from Duterte, however, hint at a government out of step with the aims of its own regulatory body.
Having imposed a ban on license approval in January over concerns of “proliferation,” the president now seems determined to restrict growth of industry worth over $383m in 2017.
The idea that the president’s comments may only apply to the cleansing period is supported by Duterte already approving the construction of farms on public areas of the island after six months, despite a 2006 proclamation prohibiting such development for 30 years.
However, if the president’s concerns lie more with the casino industry as a whole, Galaxy may find itself falling foul of a March ruling requiring full approval from Duterte’s own department of environment and natural resources.