Despite protests, ‘casinos keep city afloat’, – Mayor

by Magtanggol Bayani

The City government of Paranaque admitted that big casino resort that mushroomed in the city have contributed the biggest chunk of its revenue collection and apparently has kept them afloat.

Paranaque Mayor Edwin Olivarez recently disclosed that the entry of this establishments have “increased the city’s annual income to P5 billion last year compared to P2 billion collection during the previous administration”.

Records showed that among the top business taxpayers in the city are the casino establishments that were constructed at the sprawling 100-hectare land known as Paranaque’s Entertainment City. These establishments were recently recognized by the local government during the 3rd Sunduan Festival.

On top of the list of top business taxpayers was Belle Corp., developer of the City of Dreams Manila, that paid a real property tax amounting to P135.9 million in 2015.

Belle, once a dormant mining and oil exploration company before shifting its focus towards property development in 1989, also owns significant real estate assets in and around Tagaytay City, Cavite.
Olivares said the City of Dream Manila, “an electrifying, innovative and diverse entertainment destination,” played a major role in the development of the city.

The City of Dreams Manila soft-opened in December 2014 and had a grand launch February last year.

It covers about two hectares of gaming space, more than 900 hotel rooms operated under three hotel brands (namely Crown, Hyatt and Nobu), the DreamPlay indoor amusement park and approximately two hectares of restaurant and retail space.

Olivarez recalled that in 2013, the city government had been plagued by huge budget deficit. The Commission on Audit and the local treasury discovered that Parañaque has an outstanding loan of P2 billion with the Land Bank of the Philippines and another P2.7-billion cash deficit.

Olivares said the that massive developments taking place in the city is the main reason “why investors are pouring in huge capital with an estimated amount of over $10 billion in the Entertainment City.”
He said the city government we can now efficiently deliver the basic services, like school and hospital buildings and generate thousands of jobs to city residents with the taxes generated from these multibillion-peso projects.

Records also showed that SM Group of Companies, is at the second spot next to Belle, after paying business and real property tax amounting to P80.5 million for its three supermalls in the city, namely SM City Sucat, SM City BF Parañaque and SM City Bicutan.

Other top business taxpayers in the city were Bloomberry Resorts Corp. (BRC), developer of Solaire Resort & Casino of port mogul Enrique Razon; the D.M. Wenceslao and Associates Inc. (DMWAI), project developer of Entertainment City; and the Manila Bay Development Corp. (MBDC), a construction consultancy and management.

Bloomberry, which gained an auspicious head start over other private gaming operators in the Entertainment City, paid P55 million in real property tax last year.

DMWAI contributed P46.6 million to the city coffer in 2015, while MBDC added P34.9 million in real tax payment.

But the mushrooming of casinos not only in Paranaque City but almost in the entire country apparently has taken its toll on Filipino families not only eroding its moral foundation but has led to higher rate of incidence of family breakdown and breakup.

A recent study by a group a opposed to establishment of casino and gambling in the country recently showed that one of the main negative impacts of gambling leads to bankruptcy, divorce, suicide, commission of crimes such as robbery or even manslaughter.

The group, known as Kontra sa Casino at Sugal, vowed to exhaust all legal means to continue its fight against the establishment of casino and perpetration of gambling joints in the country whether legal of illegal.

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