Casino component of questioned Isla dela Victoria project

IS building a casino in Cebu City still allowed?

The government of Cebu City thinks so, despite recent statements by President Rodrigo Duterte to ban online casinos in the country.

On August 8, President Duterte said he would no longer issue licenses for new casinos that would operate in the country.

"I do not allow it, I hate gambling, I do not want it, there are no casinos outside of what exists here," Duterte said in a speech during the 117th anniversary of the police at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

He mentioned the case of the Nayong Pilipino Foundation (NPF), where he dismissed all board members of the agency about a "grossly disadvantageous" 70-year real estate lease contract.

On the same day the President made the announcement, the Council led by Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) approved the resolution authorizing Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña to enter into a $ 18 billion joint venture agreement with Universal Hotels and Resorts Inc. (UHRI).

UHRI, the development department of the Gongongwei property of JG Summit Holdings Corp., plans to build an integrated resort within the eight-hectare Kawit Island site that is now part of the South Road Properties (SRP).

It is called Isla dela Victoria and consists not only of a casino, but also of high-rise hotels, convention centers, luxury facilities and an amphitheater.

Francisco Fernandez, executive assistant of Osmeña, told reporters in a press interview that UHRI has managed to obtain a license from the Philippine Entertainment and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) before the president has announced a ban on casino games.

"They have already received a permit from Pagcor in 2017, so we are convinced that the project will continue", says Fernandez.

Members of the opposition, United Barug Team Rama, who tried to block the execution of the project, previously criticized the city council for tolerating development firms that want to build casinos in Cebu City.

Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgar Labella warned Osmeña that having a casino in the city would contradict the announcement of the president.

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