Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says he’s opposed to the building of a casino complex on Boracay and vowed to hand over the land to local farmers, local media reports.
Speaking at a press conference before flying to China, Duterte told reporters, “There are no plans for a casino. Let’s stop it because it’s too much. There’s a casino here, casino there.”
“Consider Boracay a land reform area. I will give it to the farmers, to the Filipinos first,” he said.
Duterte’s comments came as businesses on the island began shutting up shop and laying off workers due to an enforced six-month closure on environmental concerns.
The shutdown takes effect from April 26 and will forbid any tourism on the island. Only local residents will be permitted to stay and swimming in the sea will be banned.
The president is expected to declare a state of calamity to allow the release of PHP2 billion pesos in public funds, which could be used to help displaced workers.
In March, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. announced it had given a provisional license for a $500 million IR to be built by Macau’s Galaxy Entertainment Group. It’s unclear how Duterte’s comments will impact the project.