DOJ UPHOLDS PALACE BAN ON CASINO OPS IN BORACAY
MANILA — The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday upheld the validity of Malacanang’s decision to ban casino operations in Boracay after completion of the tourist spot’s rehabilitation.
In an eight-page legal opinion, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said an executive order (EO) to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) is the “most expedient and effective” way in implementing the “no casino” policy in Boracay without the need for legislative measure.
“The State possesses police power to prohibit gambling in the Philippines or any part of it and this power was validly delegated by law to the Pagcor, a government corporation, which is subject to control by the President,” the opinion stressed.
“The President may, by an EO, direct the Pagcor to prohibit the grant of licenses to casinos in Boracay and cancel existing licenses already granted… An EO is proper to direct Pagcor to hold the grant of licenses to casinos in Boracay and to revoke existing licenses,” it stated.
The DOJ underscored the government’s authority to regulate gambling and explained the provisional licenses granted by Pagcor to casino operators are not contracts that bind the government to obligations.
“Truly, a license can be granted, revoked or withheld renewal at the instance of an issuing authority like the Pagcor because it is an act of grace, a grant of privilege not regularly available to other persons. The provisions of a contract, on the other hand, are premised on agreement of parties,” it pointed out, citing jurisprudence.
“As we already stated, the regulation of gambling and casinos — including recall of provisional licenses — is a valid exercise of police powers, the operators cannot, consequently, say that an EO directing the revocation of existing licenses violates the non-impairment clause under the Constitution,” read the opinion.
The DOJ said the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force, or a new working group can be tasked to create the EO which must contain provisions covering investments already shelled out by casino firms with provisional licenses.
“We are not unmindful of the fact that these investors may have already expanded capital on their investments. Thus, we recommend that in coming up with the EO, provisions concerning the consequence of cancellation of provisional licenses be included,” the opinion added. (PNA)