More sectors asked to speak up on proposed 2 a.m. closing time for all night establishments

BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio Domogan on Wednesday urged more sectors to air their stands on the proposed extension of the closing time for all night establishments in the City to 2 a.m. even as he reiterated his opposition to the proposal.

"I hope many other sectors and the silent majority will be consulted to speak up on the issue so their opinions will be made known because I'm sure that many agree with me that our City should be promoted as a family-oriented tourist destination rather than as a drinking capital," the mayor told his weekly press briefing.

The mayor said extending the hours of operation of these night spots would definitely help boost their income but the City Council should also consider the consequences it will entail like the effect it will have on the crime situation of the City in face of the fact that physical injury cases in the city are mostly liquor-related as per report of the Baguio City Police Office.

He said one scenario that can be expected when the City extends operation until 2 a.m. is that the City will have to deal with the spillover of drunkards from neighboring La Trinidad where the closing time remains at 12 a.m.

The mayor expressed no objection to advancing the opening time to 9 a.m. but he said the closing time should stay at 12 a.m.

During the public consultation conducted by the City Council last July 31, Vice Mayor Edison Bilog, co-author of the proposed consolidated ordinance adopting a uniform operation time for all night establishments from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. said the City should also consider the plight of the businessmen running the night establishments who in their appeal said the extension of hours of operation would enable them to cater to customers, mostly tourists, availing of their services even after midnight and thereby help them recoup their operational expenses and realize more income to ensure quality service and entertainment to their clients including the provision of proper and ample security.

Coun. Faustino Olowan who chairs the council committee on laws that drafted the proposal said he does not think that expanding the hours of operation of these night spots would necessarily make Baguio as a drinking capital.

Coun. Edgar Avila however agreed with the mayor that there is no need to amend the ordinance as more than the economic factor of the proposal, they must consider foremost the good of the majority.

He noted that other areas in the country like Dagupan and Davao cities have reduced the hours of operation of these establishments so he sees no reason why Baguio will do otherwise.

Baguio Association of Bars and Entertainers (BABES) president Allan Bandoy committed the group's cooperation to the City Government in ensuring the health, security and safety of their customers and in safeguarding the youth by employing more bouncers and security guards and installing CCTV units.

He also offered the association's help to address problems on health and sanitation, admission of minors and on peace and order after some barangay officials pointed out encountering the said problems in their turfs.

Former Imelda Village barangay captain Arturo Rapelo Jr. also brought up problems on night spots that violate the zoning ordinance while some are located along road rights-of-way while another barangay official pointed to complaints being received on drunks causing fear among residents as well as problems on parking.

Office of the Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA) head Isias Barongan repeatedly stressed the need to penalize bars that allow entry to minors.

Like the mayor, BCPO Traffic Chief Insp. Marlo Evasco expressed preference for advancing their operation at daytime and cutting it short at nighttime for easy monitoring by policemen.

He also suggested that all night spots with drinking be located in one zone so the monitoring can be concentrated in one area noting the hardship being experienced by the city police in their night shifts dividing their time monitoring the night market, the barangays and the drinking spots.

The proposed ordinance also co-authored by Couns. Leandro Yangot, Joel Alangsab, Elmer Datuin and Benny Bomogao seeks to amend Ordinance No. 88-2009 which allows only establishments with dancing to operate from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. while those without dancing are mandated to operate only from 3 p.m. to 12 midnight and liquor retail is only from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

In the proposal, all establishments with or without dancing including the following: night club and day club, cocktail lounge with dancing, beer garden or house with dancing, bar with dancing, duly accredited tourist-oriented hotel with restaurant, bar of disco, cabaret or dance halls, folk house or folk den serving beer only, bar or coffee shop serving beer or liquor, disco pub, ordinary beer garden without dancing, cocktail lounge or bar without dancing, cocktail lounge, restaurant with liquor, internet café, computer centers and dart centers will be allowed to operate from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. – Aileen P. Refuerzo

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