COA to Nayong Pilipino: Show proof of land appraisal for $1.5B casino

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 9) — A government audit report shows the Nayong Pilipino Foundation - whose entire board of trustees was fired this week by President Rodrigo Duterte - had been warned as early as last year about flaws in its lease contract with a Hong Kong-based gaming and entertainment operator's subsidiary.

The Commission on Audit, in its 2017 report, called out the foundation for failing to show proof it conducted an appraisal before renting out 95.7 hectares of its land in Paranaque City to the subsidiary of Landing International Development. It added that board did not post a notice to the public to get offers from other Filipino investors.

COA said doing these measures will ensure that Landing Resorts Philippines Development Corporation's proposal to build the $1.5 billion integrated casino-resort "NayonLanding" in Entertainment City is the deal that is "most advantageous to the government."

The board of trustees was not able to compare the offer of Landing "with other quotations/offers from interested investor to determine whether the said offer of was the most advantageous to Nayong Pilipino Foundation," the COA report added.

The monthly lease rate of the 95,700 square meter land is at P150/sqm.

The auditing body also pointed out Nayong Pilipino withdrew the project from the Public-Private Partnership Program in November 2017 without securing an approval from the National Economic Development Authority.

COA said they were told by foundation's management that they independently evaluated the rental rates in the area, but they have yet to receive a copy of the evaluation. It urged Nayong Pilipino to submit a copy of the said report.

The government on Tuesday said the "flawed" lease deal  between Landing and Nayong Pilipino was "grossly disadvantageous" to the government.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said the Nayong Pilipino officials shouldn't have granted a 75-year lease contract for a casino, which led to their mass sacking.

"Yesterday I fired the council of Nayong Pilipino. All of them. You do not give gambling licenses or franchise for 75 years," he said in a speech.

Landing International denied the allegations, saying Landing Philippines' lease is only for 25 years and is renewable for another 25 years.

"To the best knowledge of the company, the lease is legal, valid, and enforceable," it said. It added the construction of NayonLanding will continue despite Duterte's pronouncement.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said after its review of the contract, the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel will submit a report with recommendations on the proper course of action for the government.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the review findings will most likely lead to the termination of the contract between Nayong Pilipino and Landing Philippines.

"The President has expressly ordered the review of the contract because in his own appreciation of the terms and conditions of the contract. He characterized the contract as 'flawed.' So when the President says it is flawed, then obviously the order to review is towards possibly putting an end to the contract," he said on Thursday.