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Category: Current News

MANILA, Philippines – The Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) said yesterday it is reviewing its sub-lease contract with Ekran Berhad Snd., the Malaysian company that developed the P1-billion Samal Casino Resort, which has been abandoned for almost 20 years.

TIEZA chief operating officer Guiller Asido told The STAR the agency is exploring all its options that, in the end, would result in the redevelopment of the property for the benefit of the residents in the area.

“(The resort) has been abandoned by Ekran for around 20 years already. To me there was already a failure on the part of Ekran to observe the terms and conditions of the contract,” Asido said.

 “We did a review of the terms and conditions and we sent a letter to Ekran in Malaysia asking what their plans are and if they still plan to operate it,” he added.

However, Asido said the company’s response was not firm enough to ascertain if it was really committed to redevelop the property.

“They responded, saying they’re still looking for investors. They said they can only commit about two more years. But that’s not firm. The commitment is not clear, when they will really operate and what steps they will be taking,” the official added.

According to Asido, TIEZA is still exploring all legal remedies, possibly terminating its sub-lease contract with Ekran Berhad.

 “Our end objective is to make sure that the property be fully developed already. We’re exploring all our legal remedies,” he said.

The official said the agency is also in discussions with the San Isidro-Libertad-San Remigio Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Multipurpose Cooperative Inc. (SLS-CARBMCO) to determine the next steps for the development of Samal Island Tourism Estate (SITE).

In 1994, the Department of Tourism and the Philippine Tourism Authority (now TIEZA) entered into a lease agreement with the SLS–CARBMCO to develop Samal and improve the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) corridor.

Then, former president Fidel Ramos signed Proclamation 1212 declaring Samal Island as a special economic zone.

Malaysian construction giant Ekran Berhad Snd. signified interest to develop the site. A sublease agreement, along with a master plan that envisioned a casino resort, a golf course and a retirement village was inked with the PTA.

Ekran has built the Phase 1 of the master plan, which comprised the Samal Casino Resort. However, the company was reportedly affected by the Asian financial crisis back in 1998, abandoning the resort to date.

 Island Garden City of Samal Mayor Al David Uy said he is pushing for the reopening of the Ekran Berhad Resort as it would propel the growth of tourism in the area.

“We share the sentiment of our good mayor on the redevelopment and reopening of the Samal Casino Resort so the cooperative members will benefit from it,” SLS-CARBMCO, for its part, added.

It was earlier reported by The STAR that Ekran Berhad is eyeing to reopen the casino resort with new investors interested to pour in fresh capital.

However, Uy said there were still matters that need to be addressed, such as the P50 million worth of tax owed by the company to the city.

 


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OFFICE OF THE CITY VICE MAYOR RICHARD A. GUINDOLMAN