Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Support for Subic casino’s reopening snowballs

By Bebot Sison Jr. - The Philippine Star

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — Stakeholders of the Subic Freeport have expressed support for Subic Legenda Casino which the state-owned Philippine Gaming and Amusement Corp. (Pagcor) padlocked last Friday.

"Pagcor is scaring away foreign investors," said Legenda Casino chief executive officer Khoo Boo Boon in a press conference which was attended by several Subic investors, particularly those engaged in tourism-related businesses.

Among those that have expressed support for Legenda Casino are the Olongapo City government and the communities around the Freeport, including Aetas who have benefited from several outreach programs of the casino.

Khoo deplored what he described as the "mobster-like" takeover of the casino facilities, saying that Pagcor used "strong arm measures to get rid of uncooperative foreign investors."

Khoo said Pagcor men, together with law enforcers brandishing high-powered firearms, barged into the casino and served the Pagcor board’s order canceling Legenda’s casino license.

"The Pagcor men were very rude and they forcibly entered the casino, and harassed our security staff, casino personnel and hotel guests," Khoo said in a press statement distributed during the conference.

"The manner by which these Pagcor men enforced the closure order was barbaric and without due regard to Philippine laws and the court of justice," he added.

He cited a court decision issued on Dec. 28, 2004 enjoining Pagcor from taking any adverse action that would suspend, limit or modify Subic Legenda Casino’s operations in the Freeport.

Khoo also showed a copy of another court order issued on Nov. 29, 2004 which directed a "stay" in the enforcement of any claims against Subic Legenda "whether for money or otherwise and whether such enforcement is by court action or otherwise."

Pagcor spokesman Dodie King, however, said in a statement that Pagcor revoked the provisional grant of authority issued to Legenda International Resorts Ltd. to operate a casino at Legenda Hotel.

"Pagcor, by virtue of Presidential Decree 1869 (or the Pagcor charter), is the only regulatory body with the authority to issue or revoke grants of authority to operate casinos in the country," King said.

He said the Subic Legenda Casino was closed because it conducted illegal cockfights in its premises and failed to pay the government more than P365 million in gaming license fees.


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