Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced he was firing the entire board of Landing International Development’s local partner, just as the two parties broke ground on a US$1.5 billion theme park in Entertainment City, Manila.
Hong Kong-listed Landing received a license from the Philippine Amusement and Gambling Corporation last month, and the ceremony marking the official start of work was attended by Andrea Domingo, head of the regulatory body, and other leading figures.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque made the announcement at a press conference minutes after the ceremony, arguing that the seventy-year land lease granted for the project would be “grossly disadvantageous” to the state.
“Sorry to burst your bubble, people, but the president said that is grossly disadvantageous to the government,” he said.
Landing has teamed up with the Nayong Pilipino Foundation (NPF) to develop the IR, as under local law foreign investors are not allowed majority control of the land.
Following the announcement, NPF chairperson Patricia Ocampo said she would abide by Duterte’s decision to fire NPF’s board of trustees and management team, but denied any wrongdoing. She and Landing also clarified the lease was for 25 years and not 70 years.
Landing in a separate statement also stressed that the decision to replace top officials at NPF would not affect the project as it is a valid leaseholder.
“Unless the lease contract is canceled or nullified on legal grounds by the courts, Landing has reason to believe that it is a valid leaseholder and can legally proceed with its project,” the statement read.
However, according to Roque, Duterte also ordered the cancellation of the lease deal creating further confusion as to the status of the project. (AGB)