The casino industry in the Philippines has been growing at a rapid pace as the ruling government wants to encourage gambling establishments to set up operations in the country and capitalize on the collapse of Macau’s gambling industry. Casino establishments are eager to make use of the government’s invitation and are looking to capture prime real estate, especially in Manila to set up their gambling operations.
Recent reports suggest that the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) has given approval for a casino to be constructed in Manila where the historic Army and Navy Club was once located. While there is no official documentation as to when the club was first established, the available evidence suggest that it was first opened back in 1898 and was known as the first American social club in Manila.
The National Historical Commission of the Philippines had labelled the club as a national and historical landmark in 1991 and the Manila City government took on ownership of the historic site. Since then the site has changed hands a number of times as it was first handed over to the Oceanville Hotel and Spa Corp o n a lease basis. There was a sub-lease taken out at a later stage and the club was handed over to the Vanderwood Management Corp, who in turn leased out a part of the venue to PAGCOR.
An official who preferred to be anonymous stated that PAGCOR had decided to issue a license to a gambling establishment who would now use the site to build a casino. If everything goes as per plan, the casino will open its doors to the public in 2017. The official stated that PAGCOR had violated a number of laws in order to hand over the historic Army and Navy Club to the gambling establishment.
According to the official, PAGCOR have breached the Philippine procurement law which is also known as the Republic Act 9184 and the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009. The Republic Act 9184 has been violated because under this law only the absolute owner of the property has the right to lease or sell the property and the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009 was violated because a historic landmark is being turned into a 5 star boutique hotel and casino.
The National Historical Commission of the Philippines will have to look into the matter to determine if PAGCOR has breached any rules and will have to decide on a course of action.