BAGUIO CITY – A member of the city council wants the city government to order the stoppage of all illegal and legal forms of gambling in order to abide by the will of local residents who have time and again denounced the presence of gambling in the city.
Councilor Richard A. Cariño, chairman of the city council committee on laws, said that if it is the will of the people of Baguio that there should be no gambling, then all illegal and legal forms of gambling must be already stopped in the interest of public welfare.
The councilor was reacting to social media criticisms against some councilors for allegedly passing an unnumbered resolution on 25 March 2014 that interposes no objection to the electronic bingo application of a certain Mr. Rafael A. Tabora along Marcos highway which never passed the regular session of the council.
“We never knew that the proposed resolution which we authored was used by the applicant to secure an electronic bingo permit from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) that subsequently paved the way for the existence of an electronic bingo outlet along Marcos highway,” he stressed.
According to him, the said unnumbered resolution was signed by the authors on 25 March 2014 and was supposed to be reported out by the committee on laws but the same never happened after the untimely demise of the late Vice Mayor Daniel T. Fariñas last May.
On the reasons why the signatures of the ten members of the council appear on the unnumbered resolution, he explained they were the authors of the legislative measure that was supposed to be deliberated by the council but for still known reasons, it was never calendared for debates.
Cariño agreed to an earlier proposal of Councilor Betty Lourdes F. Tabanda that a resolution be formally filed in the council to discuss on the matter, saying that such issue will still be dependent on the majority members of the local legislative body.
He cited if the stoppage of the electronic bingo operation should also cause the stoppage of regular bingo outlets at the Baguio Center Mall and SM and lotto and kenot outlets in order to be fair while massive operations must also be done to stop all forms of illegal gambling citywide.
The city council purported passed an unnumbered resolution dated 25 March 2014 ‘interposing no objection to the request of Mr. Rafael A. Tabora to put up an electronic bingo outlet as authorized by the PAGCOR to be situated at Ceterpoint Plaza, Bakakeng Central barangay, Marcos highway, Baguio City, subject to existing zoning ordinance and other laws, ordinances and administrative issuances affecting the operation of bingo games in the city.” Subsequently, Those who signed the unnumbered resolution were the late Vice Mayor Daniel T. Fariñas, former councilor and now Vice Mayor Edison R. Bilog, councilors Elmer O. Datuin, Faustino A. Olowan, Elaine D. Sembrenao, Fred L. Bagbagen, Roberto C. Ortega, Richard A. Cariño, Joel A. Alangsab and Michael L. Lawana. Councilor Peter Fianza, whose name was included as a signatory to the resolution, did not sign while councilors Leandro B. Yangot, Jr., Betty Lourdes F. Tabanda and Isabelo Cosalan, Jr.
Under the revised Charter of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), which sanctions the operation of casinos and bingo stations nationwide, interested operators of such kinds of amusement must first secure the consent of the host local government through a certificate of no objection to be issued by concerned local officials. People are now asking whether or not the electronic bingo station along Marcos highway passed the regular process in securing the local government’s certificate of no objection and the subsequent permit to operate from PAGCOR.
Because of the unnumbered resolution deemed as formal action of the council, Mr. Tabora used the same as his proof of no objection to his electronic bingo application that resulted to the issuance of the mandatory PAGCOR permit.
On 14 April 2014, Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan, using the unnumbered resolution as his premise, wrote a letter addressed to Hon. Cristino L. Naguiyat, Jr., PAGCOR Chairman and Chief Executive officer, stating among others that he does not interpose no objection to Mr. Tabora’s request to put up an electronic bingo outlet as authorized by PAGCOR, provided, that the applicant had the necessary permit from the amusement corporation as well as to ensure that the place of operation will continue in a place which is 200 meters away from any church, schoolbuilding and government offices.
On the date specified in the resolution, Cariño reasoned out that the date 25 March 2014, which falls on a Tuesday, instead of a Monday, which is the council’s regular session, only shows when the resolution was signed by the authors.
For his part, Mayor Domogan said he will leave the controversial matter to the next action of the city council.
By Dexter A. See