The Philippine’s Department of Justice will scrutinize the “flawed” casino land lease deal that the government entered with Hong Kong-listed casino operator Landing International Development Ltd (LIDL), the Philippine Star reported.
Philippine Justice Secretary Menardo Guevara has reportedly tapped the country’s Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) to conduct a review on the controversial $1.5 billion agreement, including the re-evaluation of other documents related to the project. Guevera’s own legal staff will also conduct its parallel investigation, according to justice secretary.
“I have instructed the OGCC to immediately review all the relevant facts and re-evaluate and examine all contracts, agreements and other documents pertaining to this questioned transaction, including the legal opinions previously rendered by the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel to its client, Nayong Pilipino Foundation Inc.,” Guevarra said in a statement, according to the news outlet.
Meanwhile, state regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) warned that LIDL’s provisional gaming license may be revoked if the land lease deal will be proven anomalous.
In a statement, PAGCOR pointed out that the provisional license issued to LIDL was “precisely conditioned” upon the continuing compliance with all legal requirements and existing limitations of government.
This includes the presence of a valid lease contract between the parties concerned for the establishment of a Filipino heritage theme park and integrated casino resort in Entertainment City, according to the state regulator. PAGCOR also backed Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s position on the country’s gaming industry.
“As regulator, PAGCOR is duty-bound to ensure that all gaming-related regulations are adhered to, balancing the responsibility of increasing badly-needed revenues for the government and safeguarding the best interests of the Filipino people,” the gambling regulator said.
Early this week, Duterte ordered the cancellation of the LIDL’s casino land lease deal with Nayong Pilipino Foundation (NPF), which he said was “grossly disadvantageous.”
The firebrand president also ordered state regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to stop issuing casino licenses to new investors, reiterating that “he hates gambling.”
LIDL remained unfazed by Duterte’s recent statements on property lease contract that NPF awarded to them, saying that they were on track with the development plans for the NayonLanding integrated resorts project. LIDL also pointed out that the termination of NPF board members and management won’t affect the validity of their contract lease with the agency.