BAGUIO CITY – The city council here railroaded and subsequently approved the operation of an electronic bingo outlet along Marcos highway in a bid to correct the deficiencies of the operator and totally disregarding a battery of opposition from various sectors of the city against all forms of gambling as well as deviating from the city’s police against all forms of gambling.
Instead of referring the proposed resolution interposing no objection to the request of Mr. Rafael A. Tabora to put up an electronic bingo outlet as authorized by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to be situated at Center Point Plaza, Bakakeng Central Barangay, Marcos Highway, the authors of the resolution, Vice Mayor Edison R. Bilog, Roberto C. Ortega, Elmer O. Datuin, Faustino A. Olowan, Richard A. Cariño, Joel Alangsab, Fred. L. Bagbagen, Michael L. Lawana and Leandro B. Yangot, Jr., used the power of numbers to muscle the resolution through the local legislative bodey in order to catch up with the expected expiration of the one-year permit issued by PAGCOR to Mr. Tabora to operate the e-bingo outlet.
Seemingly disregarding the council procedure, the authors also out voted the proposals of councilors Betty Lourdes Tabanda, Elaine Sembrano, Peter Fianza and Isabelo Cosalan, Jr. to refer the matter to the committee on laws and to invite all concerned sectors to air their views on the matter before acting on the proposed resolution that was purportedly submitted to the council agenda on 09 March 2015 but no committee report was submitted to the council for proper deliberation and a basis of the council action.
The authors availed of the suspension of the rules to insert the controversial resolution to concretize their previous hidden action favouring the operation of the Tabora electronic bingo outlet.
It can be recalled that when Herald Express exposed the existence of a 25 March 2014 unnumbered council resolution interposing no objection to the operation of the Tabora e-bingo outlet along Marcos highway, Bilog, Alangsab, Bagbagen and Olowan denied knowledge of having known such resolution and worst, Bilog, Alangsab and Olowan denied having signed the 25 March 2014 unnumbered resolution.
The only new signatories to the 09 March 2015 was Yangot while Sembrano, who signed the 25 March 2014, failed to affix her signature in the latest council resolution approving the e-bingo operation in the city.
Fianza, Tabanda, Cosalan and Sembrano tried last ditch efforts to put pressure to the majority of the authors to refer the matter to the concerned council committee and for the council to invite all concerned parties for further consultations but the authors prevailed upon them due to the power of the majority of the councillors wanting to vote in favour of the e-bingo operation.
The majority councillors preferred to act on the pending e-bingo application of Mr. Tabora and decided to abandon and neglect the pending proposals of Mr. Romeo Chong ,of RCC Global Entertainment that was filed sometime in January 2014 and Alejandro Almonte of Highland Gaming Corporation that was also filed on 17 October 2014 which were both filed in the council but no action was done by the committee on laws chaired by Cariño, thereby formulating public conclusions that the council is favouring Mr. Tabora on the matter for alleged obvious reasons.
Religious leaders, civil society representatives, social welfare organization leaders and other concerned citizens of the city petitioned the city council not to approve the e-bingo application of Mr. Tabora and other applicants since the proliferation of e-bingo outlets will affect the morals of the people among other major reasons.
Ironically, the majority of the council members, who voted in favour of the e-bingo application of Mr. Tabora, shut the doors on the opposition by refusing to refer the matter to the concerned council committee in order to allow future discussions in relation to the said matter.
Those who voted in favour of granting the e-bingo application of Mr. Tabora were Ortega, Datuin, Cariño, Olowan, Alangsab, Bagbagen, Lawana and Yangot while those who vehemently opposed the existence of e0bingo in the city were Fianza, Tabanda, Cosalan and Sembrano.
The pro-electronic bingo councillors even had the nerve to reason out that the operation of e-bingo in the city is not against the city’s anti-gambling policy since what is only defined by the city’s policy is legislations against casino, e-games and illegal gambling.
Earlier, PAGCOR gave Mr. Tabora a permit to operate e-bingo in the city using the controversial 25 March 2014 unnumbered resolution and that the authorization already expired, thus, the majority members of the city council exerted all efforts to have the resolution approved even without the required committee report and the consultations with the people of Baguio so that it could continue its operation.
The city’s permits and licensing division was preparing the issuance of a closure order for Mr. Tabora’s e-bingo outlet but it was overtaken by the railroading of the resolution interposing no objection to the e-bingo operation.
The council also requested PAGCOR to shy away from issuing authorization to e-bingo operators in SM City Baguio and the Baguio Center Mall considering that they were not able to secure the required council endorsement and ordered the city permits and licensing division to close the operation of such outlets.
By the Herald Express News Team