by Rimaliza A. Opiña with reports from Patricia Louise Mendoza
The operation of electronic bingo by three establishments in Baguio is legal, according to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.
The e-bingo at SM Baguio and Centermall were granted licenses to operate on November 2010, while the e-bingo at Centerpoint Plaza in Bakakeng Norte, Marcos Highway was issued on April 2014. Of the three, only the latter was required by Pagcor to submit, among several requirements, a certificate of non-objection from the local government.
The certificate of non-objection was required only in 2012, when the Pagcor charter was amended in 2007, said Arnie Salvosa, senior legal counsel of Pagcor’s Corporate and Legal Services Department, during the city council’s session, Monday. He said a certificate of no objection is now required from LGUs as government’s response to clamor from host communities who object to the operation of state-sanctioned gambling in their jurisdiction.
Pagcor’s Remote Gaming Unit, Gaming Licensing and Development Senior Manager Nelie Lorenzo said this is why Pagcor has not yet issued a license to operate to two pending applications, which intends to operate at Albergo Hotel and Maharlika Livelihood Complex.
Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda said this does not mean there is nothing irregular in the operation of e-bingo at Centerpoint. She said T2RAF, operator at Centerpoint, submitted a proposed resolution, not an approved resolution that endorsed the same.
She also reminded that several of the signatories, including Vice Mayor Edison Bilog denied signing the proposed resolution.
T2RAF owner, a certain Rafael Tabora, submitted the proposed resolution to the Pagcor on April this year, but the city council only approved the resolution last month, Tabanda said.
She also said the resolution of no objection appears to have been rushed in time for the renewal of T2’s provisional license to operate, which was supposed to expire last June 9.
Tabanda also authored a resolution, which was approved last Monday, which added the vice mayor’s name as co-author in the resolution of endorsement.
Councilor Faustino Olowan, who also earlier denied signing the proposed resolution, said Bilog is washing his hands from criticism by anti-gambling advocates.
Lorenzo said Pagcor investigated allegations that the signature of the councilors were forged however, she said Tabora confirmed authenticity of the signatures of Bilog, Olowan, councilors Richard Cariño, Elaine Sembrano, Roberto Ortega, Michael Lawana, Joel Alangsab, and Elmer Datuin.
Only Cariño, Sembrano, and Lawana confirmed signing the proposed resolution but stressed Tabora should not have used the document for it was not an act of the city council.
The Pagcor said if the LGU is bent on stopping the operation of e-bingo, the city council can file a resolution withdrawing the resolution of endorsement, or the mayor may cancel or not renew business permits issued.
Meanwhile, the Pagcor confirmed issuing another license to T2RAF to operate in Tuba, Benguet. Using a tax declaration as basis, the LGU of Tuba issued a business permit.
Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan said he will issue a notice to close operation.