by Jimmy K. Laking
Stung by a spate of violence traced in part to abuse of alcohol, La Trinidad authorities last week stepped up their drive to implement the 8 p.m. curfew on the sale of alcohol in bars and retail stores.
“Either they must toe the line or risk being closed for good,” said Mayor Edna C. Tabanda.
Tabanda personally led policemen in closing bars and retail stores that were serving liquor beyond the deadline on a nightly basis to prevent a repeat of the killing of two residents by an off-duty policeman who was also reported as under the influence of liquor.
Tabanda reiterated her position in a meeting with bar and retail store proprietors adding that the ordinance imposing the curfew remains in force.
She ruled out implementing the new ordinance that sought to regulate the sale of alcohol beyond 8 p.m. since it lacked implementing rules and regulations.
S/Supt. Rodolfo Azurin, police provincial director, said most of the 206 cases of physical injury tallied by the capital town since January were alcohol-related.
Azurin said the cases were concentrated in barangays Pico, Balili, Betag, and Poblacion.
He told establishment owners that their security guards must frisk customers for firearms before these are allowed entry, as practiced in Metro Manila.
Tabanda said a stabbing incident on Aug. 12 where one teenager died and another injured arose when two separate groups of minors, believed to be under the influence of alcohol, went at each other. The suspect in the stabbing was a minor and was referred to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
She said some establishment owners were arrogant and have been defiant in the observance of the ordinance, prompting her to cancel their licenses.
She clarified that the Department of Tourism has not accredited bars only restaurants in La Trinidad.
She added she felt bad about the proliferation of bars and retail stores serving alcohol because “it is mostly the young people or minors, both boys and girls, who are frequenting these establishments.”
“Is this what we all want our children to be doing?” she asked.
The mayor said the new ordinance regulating the sale of liquor needed to be amended since its classification of establishments was lifted from the Sanitation Code and that there is confusion as to its implementation due to the lack of an IRR.
Among other things, she said most of the town’s punong barangays are largely unaware about the ordinance, indicating lack of consultation before it was passed. Tabanda has not signed the ordinance but it has since lapsed into law.