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Club owners buck House bill limiting hours of operation

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09/17/2008 [ tribune.net.ph ]

Metro Manila nightclub owners are opposing a House bill limiting the hours of operation of nightclubs, cocktail lounges, bars and similar establishments to reduce crimes and dissuade low-salaried employees and minors from patronizing them, saying the measure besides being bad to business, is sweeping.

At the hearing of the House committee on games and amusement last Monday, Perry Mariano of the Association of Clubs, Karaoke and Disco Owners (Ackdo), said legislators should conduct a thorough study first before passing House Bill 4205 filed by Nacionalista Party Rep. Oscar Malapitan of Caloocan City.

Mariano said legislators must take into consideration the maturity of the people in certain places where these establishments are located.

“Ang peace and order po ay nakadepende rin sa maturity ng mga tao sa lugar na may ganitong establishments,” Mariano told legislators.

Besides, he said, maintenance of peace and order is the responsibility of law enforcers, particularly the Philippine National Police.

At the same hearing, a representative of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), when asked to give the bureau’s stand on the bill, was castigated by Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi) Rep. Amado Bagatsing of Manila, committee chairman, for saying some provisions in the measure are in violation of the Constitution.

“Ang tinatanong naming ay kung ano ang stand ng NBI sa bill na ito at hindi ang opinion mo,” Bagatsing told Director Reynaldo Esmeralda.

Esmeralda, citing a study conducted by the bureau, cited in particular Section 1 of the bill which provides: “Any provision of law, ordinance or regulation to the contrary notwithstanding, no nightclub, cocktail lounge, bar or similar establishment serving liquor, wine or intoxicating drinks, shall be opened for business earlier than 5 p.m. and later than 1 a.m.”

He said this regulates the property right of the owners of these establishments which is an exercise of the police power of the State.

A position paper submitted by NBI Director Nestor Mantaring to the committee said Section 1 challenges the equal protection embodied in the Constitution.

He added the bill must be based on reasonable classification “so as not to violate the guaranty of the equal protection of the laws.”

Bagatsing was further irked when Esmeralda also cited Section 4 which states: “If the offense is committed by alien, he shall be deported immediately after service of sentence.”

“This portion does not qualify or define the term alien. It is worthy to note that there are aliens who, under the principles of Public International Law, are not subject to the operation of our criminal law,” Esmeralda said.

He cited sovereign and other chiefs of state and ambassadors, ministers resident and charges d’ affaires.

To this, Bagatsing told Esmeralda “International law naman ang sinasabi mo ngayon sabihin mo lang kung ano ang posisyon ng NBI dito sa bill.”

Esmeralda explained the NBI is not against the bill and it is just its observation that some of the provisions of the measure are contrary to law. Charlie V. Manalo

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