February 1, 2023

A proposed ordinance may reduce the required distance of a drinking establishment to any school, church, hospital, or public building.
Under Section 1 of Article 4 of the Revised Liquor Ordinance of the City of Baguio (Ordinance 1-1990), no establishment serving or selling liquor shall be established within a distance of 50 linear meters or 100 linear meters, as the case may be, from any school, church, hospital, or public building. 
The proposed ordinance seeks to amend the Revised Liquor Ordinance, reducing the 100 linear meters for night clubs, cabarets, dance halls, disco pads, beer gardens, bars, and cocktail lounges to 30 linear meters if within the central business district and 50 linear meters if outside the CBD.
It will also reduce from 50 to 20 linear meters the distance for retail liquor dealers and liquor stores selling alcohol for takeout/take home.
The proposal to reduce the required distance of a drinking establishment to any school, church, hospital, or public building stemmed from the complaints of bar owners operating for years but were not issued business permits because of the stringent implementation of the ordinance. 
In the city council discussion during its regular session last Nov. 21, Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda, author of the proposed ordinance, said the proposed amendment of certain provisions of Ordinance 1-1990 will address the clamor of the affected business owners.
“We are trying to relax the requirements for them, especially the distance requirement, so that they will be able to legitimately operate,” Tabanda said. 
It was pointed out during the public consultations conducted by Tabanda that there were several drinking establishments that started operating prior to the construction of a nearby school/church/government building, but their applications for renewal of business permits were denied because of the ordinance.
In a forum last June, several members of the city council stressed there is a need to spell out the manner and basis of measurement of the required distance.
In the proposed ordinance, the linear measurement shall start from the nearest point of the perimeter fence, wall, riprap, or whole building being occupied to the nearest perimeter fence, wall riprap, of a school, church, hospital, athletic stadium, public park, or building rendering public service. It shall be measured through the use of aerial maps of the City Engineer’s Office, the City Planning and Development Office, or any designated government office.
Some councilors challenged the “linear” measurement, saying the route between the establishment and the school, church, hospital, etc. should instead be measured. 
One concern raised during the public consultations is the noise coming from the bars. To address this, Tabanda said in the proposed ordinance, business owners shall be compelled to ensure the noise emanating from the establishments will not disturb the peace and quiet of people nearby. The sound shall not exceed 50 decibels. To mitigate the noise, soundproofing shall be encouraged.
During the council session, Tabanda said the proposed ordinance seeks to “regulate” the operations of establishments selling and serving alcohol and not to prohibit them from operating or completely remove all restrictions. 
She said establishments selling and serving alcohol may cause attractive nuisance that may be attractive to children and young people but may pose a risk to their safety and wellbeing.
“I ask my colleagues to also consider the plight of school administrators, parents of students, church leaders, and other concerned citizens in the city in the same manner that we consider the plight of the business owners,” she said. 
With the comments and suggestions raised by the city council members, the proposal was deferred and rescheduled for second reading on Dec. 5. – Jordan G. Habbiling