Pagcor shuts down Malaysian-owned casino in Subic

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) has revoked the license of the casino operations of the Legend International Resorts Ltd. (LIRL) inside the Subic Freeport yesterday for failure to settle its monetary obligations with the government regulatory agency.

Law enforcement elements of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) together with a Pagcor team yesterday closed down the casino to the disappointment of foreigners who wanted to play.

In a letter addressed to LIRL, Pagcor, which also revoked the company’s provisional authority to operate the casino, said it is duty bound to revoke LIRL’s provisional authority for its supposed refusal to pay Pagcor the guaranteed minimum amount provided under the amendment of the license as agreed upon by the two parties in July 2000.

Pagcor in February 2003 had also revoked LIRL’s license issued in 1993 because of the company’s mounting bills.

On March 17, 2003, however, Pagcor issued a provisional authority to allow LIRL to settle outstanding monetary obligations to Pagcor and the SBMA.

„Since the issuance of the provisional authority, however, LIRL has not paid a single centavo of its outstanding obligations, which at present amounts to more than PHP 365 million, including interests,“ Pagcor senior managing head Carlos Bautista Jr. said.

LIRL chief executive officer Kho Boo Boon, however, cried harassment, claiming a local court on Dec. 28, 2004 restrained Pagcor from enforcing the contested amendment reached in 2000 as it declared it annulled.

In the same order,

Regional Trial Court Judge Eliodoro Ubiadas of Branch 72, also enjoined Pagcor from terminating the 1993 Agreement and license to operate the casino.

„Pagcor cannot just enforce a board resolution in direct contempt of a court order,“ Kho explained, saying „I wouldn’t mind if they have legal basis for their action.“

„One cannot just barge in and surprise somebody on a Friday taking advantage of the fact that we will not have access to the courts to secure a temporary restraining order to prevent them from closing the casino,“ Kho complained.

„It is sending the wrong signal to the outside world about doing business in the Philippines,“ Kho warned.

He said they are going to file appropriate charges against Pagcor, even as he did not contest Pagcor’s claim of its failure to pay its arrears.

When Pagcor served its notice of revocation, Kho first appealed for the casino be allowed to open, promising to cease operations, to which Pagcor agreed.

But Kho supposedly changed his mind and insisted on operating the casino when foreign players started arriving at 7:00 pm.

This prompted Pagcor and the SBMA Law Enforcement Division (SBMA-LED) to force their way into the casino.

A brief scuffle followed when several LIRL employees prevented the SBMA-LED officers from entering the casino.

Kho later assured that he will close the casino himself but demanded to have the names of the Pagcor and SBMA officials enforcing the law. But Pagcor and SBMA officials refused to give their names and instead called in a SWAT team.

As the SWAT team and the SBMA-LED operatives were able to break the human barricade. Acasino employee went hysterical while another fainted.

At 8:00 pm, about 50 casino employees, led by Kho, lighted candles and staged a prayer vigil at the entrance of the casino.

Kho asked casino employees to continue reporting for work on shifts to conduct continued vigils as he vowed to wage a legal battle against Pagcor.