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Sinakto sa inauguration! Duterte fires niece, other Nayong Pilipino board members over casino deal

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President Rodrigo Duterte sprung a surprise on board members of the Nayong Pilipino Foundation (NPF) on the day they inaugurated a new casino at the Entertainment City in Parañaque City by firing all of them.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Tuesday (August 7) announced the dismissal of NPF board members for allegedly approving a lease contract for a casino that is “disadvantageous” to the government.

Roque said Duterte expressed frustration about the continuing corruption in government under his watch.

Included among the board members sacked by Duterte was his niece, Maria Fema Duterte.

Philippine Star columnist Jarius Bondoc earlier raised questions about NPF’s decision to rent out its 9.57-hectare property to a subsidiary of Hong Kong’s Landing International Development Ltd. at a “paltry sum” of P360 per month per square meter for 25 years.

In his July 30 column, Bondoc said NPF’s deal with Landing had no consent of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).

The agreement was also flagged by the Commission on Audit due to NPF’s alleged failure to submit proof of independent appraisals and published solicitations of alternative offers.

“Purportedly NPF simply granted the Build-Operate-Maintain deal to Landing Resorts Philippines Corp.,” Bondoc said.

He added that COA recommended for the temporary halt of NPF’s deal with Landing until the company secured a casino license from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation and NEDA’s approval.

Landing, however, announced last month that it had been given a provisional gaming permit good for 15 years.

Bondoc said among the conditions for the grant of the provisional gaming permit was the establishment of theme parks before a casino is built.

This means that Landing’s casino may open only after February 2022, since Pagcor has a five-year moratorium on new gaming establishments at the Entertainment City.