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Bacolod City wins SC case vs erring bingo operator

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The Supreme Court (SC) junked the petition filed against the city government of Bacolod by a bingo games operator whose business was padlocked for failing to secure a mayor’s permit.

In a 12-page decision, the SC’s Third Division through Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco affirmed the decision of the Bacolod City Regional Trial Court Branch 49 in favor of the local government and dismissed the petition filed by Phuture Visions Co. Inc.

The SC ruling also reversed and set aside the decision of the Court of Appeals on the controversy.

The Bacolod City government had earlier found discrepancies in Phuture’s submitted requirements since the application form was notarized earlier than the amendment of its Articles of Incorporation to reflect the company’s primary purpose for bingo operations.

Aside from this, the firm failed to pay the necessary permit fee/assessment fee under the applicable tax ordinances of the City of Bacolod.

The respondent also started the operation of its bingo outlet at SM Bacolod on March 2, 2007, prior to the issuance of the actual hard copy of the mayor’s permit.

At around 6:10 a.m. on March 3, 2007, its bingo outlet was padlocked by agents of the Office of the City Legal Officer and a copy of a Closure Order dated March 2, 2007, was posted at the entrance of the bingo outlet.

Phuture claimed that the closure of its bingo outlet at SM Bacolod is tainted with malice and bad faith and that the city government did not have the legal authority to shut down said bingo operations, especially since the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation itself had already issued a provisional GOA in its favor.

Associate Justices Lucas Bersamin, Marvic M. Leonen, Samuel R. Martires and Alexander G. Gesmundo concurred with the decision. (PNA)