Pamalakaya: $ 15-B Casino Complex in Manila Bay will Trigger Displacement of Fishers

‘Bay fishers need livelihood, not casino’

The proposed establishment of a Las Vegas style casino and tourism complex in Manila Bay will trigger the displacement of small fishermen along the bay’s coastal areas from Pasay City to Cavite. This is because more eco-tourism projects and commercial establishments will be constructed to provide amenities to potential bettors and guests coming from abroad and other parts of the country.

BY GERRY ALBERT CORPUZ
Contributed to Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 9, April 6-12, 2008

The proposed establishment of a Las Vegas style casino and tourism complex in Manila Bay will trigger the displacement of small fishermen along the bay’s coastal areas from Pasay City to Cavite.

This is because more eco-tourism projects and commercial establishments will be constructed to provide amenities to potential bettors and guests coming from abroad and other parts of the country.

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya or National Alliance of Small Fisherfolk Organizations) last week said the ambitious project that seeks transform Manila Bay, a declared fishing area into the “newest gambling Mecca” in Asia will trigger demolitions of fisherfolk and urban poor communities in Pasay, Las Piñas, Parañaque and Cavite coastal towns from Bacoor to Cavite City.

“The fishermen and the urban poor people of Manila Bay need livelihood, the people want fish, not slot machines, gambling cards and spinning wheels of fortune. We want to become the food basket of Asia, not to become the Las Vegas of Asia,” Pamalakaya said.

In a press statement, a copy of which was sent to Bulatlat, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the demolitions of fisherfolk communities will be undertaken to pave the way for the construction of commercial establishments that would cater to the interests and lifestyles of high end customers of the super casino envisioned by the state-owned Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor).

“Time will come that fishing in Manila Bay will be banned by the national government, and it would only allow tourist cruise ships to navigate in Manila Bay to ferry big time gamblers to the Manila Bay casino complex from their high end condominium units and resorts located in Metro Manila and nearby Cavite province,” the militant leader said.

Starting 3rd quarter of the year

Pagcor said the actual development of the 90-hectare casino and resort complex will begin in the third quarter of the year. The state-owned gaming corporation said companies with approved proposals must invest at least one billion U.S. dollasr for their projects, with initial $ 400 million investments in the first two-years.

One of the investors, the Azure Corporation proposed to develop the Okada Resort Manila Bay, an integrated casino resort with 2,000 standard rooms and 300 VIP suites. Its main features include the biggest oceanarium, theaters and giant Ferris wheel similar to the “London Eye” and would be called the “Manila Eye.”

For its part, Genting Berhard, with its partners Star Cruises and Alliance Global Incorporated, plans to build several hotels with a minimum room capacity of 2,000 rooms and a world-class theme park.

The SM Holdings of Henry Sy, owner of SM Mall of Asia near Manila Bay, is also planning to put up a gaming facility and will tie up with Asia-Pacific Gaming of Australia, and a major luxury hotel to be managed by Radisson Hotels and Resorts at the Mall of Asia Complex side of the Manila Bay Integrated City.

On the other hand, Bloombery Investments Ltd. is planning to construct three luxury hotels with a total capacity of 1,500 rooms, with high-end retail shops, celebrity-themed dining, and a major entertainment and sports center that could rival the best in Las Vegas.

Pagcor chair Efraim Genuino said the $15-billion Manila Bay Casino project will raise the gaming company’s income by at least 30 percent once it becomes fully operational, and it is expected to generate 250,000 fresh jobs to accommodate 3 million foreign and domestic guests per year.

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