In the Philippines, a spokesperson for President, Rodrigo Duterte, has reportedly declared that the government has ‘cancelled’ the 25-year land lease agreement one of its bodies earlier signed with casino operator Landing International Development Limited.

Decision follows investigation:

According to a report from GGRAsia, the Friday revelation from Harry Roque came a day after the Philippine Department of Justice completed an inquiry into the agreement between Landing International Development Limited and the state-controlled Nayong Pilipino Foundation.

Via an official statement, the spokesperson announced that the arrangement for the 23.6-acre plot of land inside the Entertainment City district near Manila was ‘found to be void from the start’ because it had not included a public bidding process.

Roque’s statement read…

“The [Philippine] Department of Justice has joined the President in concluding that the contract is void ab initio. According to the Secretary of Justice, the contract of Landing [International Development Limited] with Nayong Pilipino [Foundation] is a build-to-operate transfer contract disguised as a lease contract.”

Site for proposed NayonLanding development:

Hong Kong-listed Landing International Development Limited is already responsible for the giant Jeju Shinhwa World integrated casino resort in South Korea and was hoping to build its $1.5 billion NayonLanding integrated casino resort on the leased parcel.

The Chinese firm had anticipated opening this development as soon as 2022 offering guests a trio of theme parks and a convention center alongside a 301,400 sq ft casino complete with a collection of slots and electronic gaming machines as well as games of poker, blackjack, baccarat, roulette and craps.

Short-lived optimism:

However, this plan soon ran into trouble after last month saw Duterte sack the entire board of Nayong Pilipino Foundation, which was responsible for signing the lease agreement. The controversial leader subsequently ordered an investigation into allegations that the arrangement with the operator’s Landing Resorts Philippines Development Corporation subsidiary had been ‘flawed’ and ‘was disadvantageous to the government’ because it had been authorized ‘without public bidding.’

Operator to seek ‘further clarification’:

For its part, Landing International Development Limited reportedly told GGRAsia that it now intends to ‘seek further clarification on this matter’ and was not prepared to make ‘any comment at this stage.’