Nayong Pilipino Foundation (NPF) reiterated that its deal with Hong Kong-based gaming firm Landing International Development Ltd. complied with all legal requirements, saying that graft and corruption allegations against its officials were all but a vicious smear campaign to derail the $1.5-billion integrated resort and casino project.
“Despite the fact that all procedural and legal requirements were strictly followed by the NPF 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 NPF, its trustees, and its officials of graft and corruption in approving the deal with Landing Resorts Philippines Development Corp. (LRDPC),” NPF said in a statement.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte earlier this month fired NPF’s entire board for approving the integrated resort and casino project called NayonLanding, which he called a “grossly disadvantageous deal” due to its “ridiculously long” lease deal of 70 years and low lease rates.
NPF however clarified that the lease contract between the two parties never stated that the lease period would span 70 years. Instead, NPF and LRDPC signed a lease deal for 25 years, renewable for another 25.
Should LRDPC’s application with the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority classify the project as a tourism enterprise zone, then the initial lease period can be changed to 50 years.
The foundation also noted that the approved lease rates for the 9.57-hectare property — pegged at P360 per square meter per month — is much higher than the basic lease rates of other such projects in the area.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque called the statement—which was posted as an advertisement in a number of newspapers — an act of open defiance of the President’s authority.
“At the end of the day, all public officials, including those who are in government-owned and controlled corporations, serve at the pleasure of the appointing authority, who happens to be the President,” Mr. Roque said in a statement.
Mr. Roque also highlighted the president’s stance of no longer wanting a new casino project in the country.
“What the NPF trustees and officials did was actually a violation of the President’s order that there will be no more new casinos allowed to operate in this country,” Mr. Roque said. — Arra B. Francia