The saga surrounding Landing International and its planned casino in Manila continues. As government officials and Landing debate whether or not the casino will go forward, the Philippine Senate is now getting involved. A lawmaker has requested that the government look into corruption allegations over the land that Landing has secured for the casino.
Senator Francis Escudero has submitted a resolution, resolution number 858, to have a committee of the Senate to investigate “supposed graft and corruption allegedly committed by the Nayong Pilipino Foundation [NPF] board of trustees and officials.” The foundation’s entire board was fired by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in early August, the same day that a groundbreaking ceremony for the casino was held.
Escudero further stated, “Corruption, power play, incompetence and dishonesty, especially if government is involved, adversely affect not only this particular project, but other high-stakes development projects of the government.”
Last Wednesday, the Philippine News Agency published an article stating that the project graft allegations are related to 26.3 acres of land that the NPF leased to a Landing subsidiary, Landing Resorts Philippines Development Corp., for the purpose of building the casino.
A statement by the former chair of the NPF, Patricia Yvette Ocampo, was published by the Business World media outlet, in which she asserted, “Despite the fact that all procedural and legal requirements were strictly followed by the [foundation] board in getting the project off the ground, opponents and critics of the project had shamelessly foisted lies about the project, and falsely and maliciously accused the [foundation], its trustees, and its officials of graft and corruption in approving the deal with Landing Resorts Philippines Development Corp.”
The casino has been the center of attention almost from the time that it was conceived. Landing wants to build a casino resort and theme park, NayonLanding, on the site; however, the future of the $1.5-billion project is now in question following the cancellation of the land lease by President Duterte. According to the casino licensing agreement, no license can be authorized if the land lease deal fails.
Landing continues to insist that the land lease is valid and plans on moving forward with the resort. It added that, unless its lease contract with the NPF was “cancelled or nullified on legal grounds by the courts, Landing International has reason to believe that it is a valid leaseholder and can legally proceed with its project.”
Whether or not the project is able to continue is just one of the battles Landing is having to face. The company’s stock price has plummeted following the revelation that its chairman, Yang Zhihui, could not be located.