BAGUIO CITY – Several members of the city council are now ‘washing their hands ‘on how an unnumbered resolution was used by an applicant to secure a permit from the Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) for the operation of an electronic bingo outlet along Marcos highway.
Vice Mayor Edison R. Bilog denied having signed the unnumbered resolution interposing no objection to the application of Mr. Rafael A. Tabora to operate an electronic bingo outlet along Marcos highway, saying that his signature that appears on the resolution was fake and forged by still unknown individuals.
He claimed the stroke of his signature appearing on the resolution was not similar to the stroke of his signature appearing on city council documents.
“I could not remember signing it. In fact, even in the letter of Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan to PAGCOR Chairman Cristino Naguiyat, Jr. dated 14 April 2014, he did not include me as the signatories to the resolution,” Bilog stressed.
He pointed out the unnumbered resolution dated 25 March 2014 which falls on a Tuesday, instead of a Monday that is the council’s regular session day, has no force and effect and that ‘it is a mere scrap of paper, a mere proposed resolution and that it should not have been used by anybody.
Bilog cited plans of investigating the same so as to avoid any repeat of such incident in the future.
After informing this writer that he was not aware of signing the resolution, councillor Faustino Olowan now claims that his signature appearing on the resolution was forged by somebody which he will not divulge for personal reasons.
Councilor Elmer Datuin admitted having singed the unnumbered resolution because electronic bingo was just an upgraded version of the traditional bingo using electronic transmissions and that electronic bingo does not ran counter to the city’s anti-casino policy.
For his part, Councilor Fred Bagbagen insisted the immediate closure of the e-bingo outlet along Marcos highway because the documents used by Mr. Tabora to support his application for PAGCOR permit was dubvious considering that the unnumbered resolution interposing no objection to the application was a mer proposed resolution.
“The unnumbered resolution is not an official document because it never passed through regular council deliberations. It should not have been used to secure Mr. Tabora’s PAGCOR permit because it is a mere proposal,” Bagbagen stressed.
Earlier, Councilor Richard Cariño said the e-bingo outlet along Marcos highway should not be singled out because both the e-bingo operations at the Bagyuio Center Mall and Sm City Baguio do not have the necessary permits from the local government, saying that the unnumbered resolution was a mere proposal and that he had no knowledge on why Mr. Tabora was issued a PAGCOR permit without a mere proposed resolution.
“If the people of Baguio are against gambling, then all forms of illegal and legal gambling must be stopped to put an end to the issue,” Cariño said.
While admitting that she also signed the unnumbered resolution, councillor Elaine Sembrano pointed out that he was assured by Mr. Tabora that the e-bingo operation was already sanctioned by the national government and that they will continue to extend assistance to the priority projects of the city in the future.
However, Sembrano claimed that such promise of Mr. Tabora was never fulfilled and that he could no longer be contacted, thus, the need to close the e-bingo outlet for having no basis of its operation as its attached certificate of no objection was dubious.
Domogan explained considering that the PAGCOR permit issued to Mr. Tabora will expire this coming May, he will not renew the business permit of the operator until such time that the council shall have resolved their differences on the controversial numbered resolution which was used to support the issuance of the permit.
“It will still be up to the council to decide whether or not to allow the continuation of the e-bingo operations. They have to settle their differences the soonest in order to put an end to the brewing issue,” Domogan stressed.
In the case of the e-bingo operations at the Baguio Center Mall and SM City Baguio, Domogan cited his action will still be dependent on whether or not the councillors will withdraw their signatures to the resolutions and ordinances governing the operations of such amusement centers.
For the past several years, the city council had been passing a number of resolutions expressing their vehement opposition to the proliferation of gambling joints in the different parts of the city and directed the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) to conduct all-out operations against gambling in the city.
By Dexter A. See