Duterte has been quite notoriously hard on all kinds of “vices” over the past three years of his rule.
His policies of killing drug dealers and forbidding all kinds of gambling in the country were quite controversial around the world and upheld by him with an iron fist. Except, it seems that things are changing now. Recently Duterte admitted defeat in his battle against gambling and said that he would not be as hard on the industry anymore. But his declaration has been trumped by him going one step further than that, recently, and introducing a piece of legislation that shows complete reversal from his previous position, a reversal which is only a little strange, but also quite suspicious. The suspicions are stemming from the fact that the Executive Order that was introduced was nothing but a result of his friendship with the people who will be directly benefitting from it, and not in a good way.
The nature of the executive order
The executive order was published on June 4th and went into effect the moment it was published. The order would mean that the Industrial Estate 5, which up until this point has been designated as a logistics district, will be transferred into an international centre of commerce, industry, leisure, and recreation. While the executive order in of itself is not bad an encourages the development of commerce in the area, it is also interesting that the decision and the order were created in order to enable the construction of a casino in the area. A casino that has been planned by Dennis Uy, a tycoon based in Davao and hailing from Philipines, who has been hoping to become more involved in the industry by creating casinos is Mactan, Cebu and Clark City, Pampanga. The concerns have been stemming from the fact that Dennis Uy and Duterte have been known associates of each other in the past and that the Executive Order might be a result of a relationship that they have managed to build in the years upcoming to Duterte’s election.
The truth of the friendship is not to be disputed, as the proof is everywhere, and has been admitted by Uy many times before. He has mentioned, a number of times, that their relationship started becoming especially close in the years of the election cycle. According to Uy, he donated around $580 000 to his campaign, which is a significant amount of money. The thing is that the business ambitions of Duterte’s friend have been growing larger every year, with the growth fo the current president’s influence throughout the years. Yet, despite the seeming coincidence of the business and the donations of Uy’s company to Duterte’s causes, his representatives are insisting that the growing business does not have anything to do with the success of the president, neither the other way around.
Although, despite the claims that these things are unrelated, the truth of the matter is still rather murky and many feel like it would be unfair to simply let this slide. The recent reversal of Duterte’s position on gambling coincides incredibly comfortable with the increasing ambition of his friend to establish a large number of casinos. The recent Executive Order could simply be another piece of evidence pointing towards the growing connection between the two and the fact that the government might be much more corrupt than their hardline position towards gambling and drugs would showcase.
Is the recent change of position a result of seeing the potential that Duterte sees in the country as leisure and touristic centre, or is it just a symptom of a corrupt leader that wants nothing but to help his buddies and himself get rich? The answer is not specific, but the murkiness of the waters does not inspire any kind of confidence or optimism.