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Two big steps backward with planned Boracay casinos

/ 05:12 AM March 22, 2018

We in the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment decry the recent statements of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to allow Macau gambling company Galaxy Entertainment Group to push through with the construction of a casino, one of two pending, in Boracay. It smacks of hypocrisy, if not duplicity, to sensationalize the crackdown on tourism establishments aggravating ecological carrying capacities on one hand, then allow large-scale entertainment facilities on the other.

Foreign big businesses trump environmental and people’s interests once again despite the bombastic pronouncement of President Duterte to blow up erring establishments. This is hypocritical especially in the context of apparently clearing the beaches only to eliminate competition for incoming Chinese business and capital investments whose entry into this country the government has been facilitating.

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Local government data show there is an average of 781 visitors per day over the past six years. A 1998 study by tourism scholar William Trousdale (Not to be confused with an American politician who died in 1872.—Ed.) already indicates that even at that level of visitors’ number in those years, the island has already been loaded with garbage pollution, e-coli contamination, and water depletion. Almost 10 years ago, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources called for a “tourism limit.”

These two megacasinos are clearly two steps backward from the ongoing tourism crackdown. Just imagine what would happen to the island if the 781 average number of visitors per day is increased by another 4,224 visitors per day, twice the average number of visitors an individual casino in Macau receives in a day. The average rate of 345 visitors per day has already been shown to be detrimental, what more with the influx of tourist-gamblers should this push through?

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The Duterte administration, especially its environment and tourism agencies, should go beyond its “papogi” crackdown and ensure that the development of tourism hubs especially in critical ecosystems should be sensitive to local ecological boundaries, cultural development, and community development. We reiterate our call on the Duterte administration to strictly enforce a moratorium on new tourism construction projects and issuance of business permits, including the planned casinos.

LEON DULCE national coordinator, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, [email protected]

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TAGS: Boracay casino projects, Boracay cleanup, Galaxy Entertainment Group, Inquirer letters, Leon Dulce, Rodrigo Duterte
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