Some bars in Oro found without biz permits

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Monday, April 7, 2014


DOZENS of entertainment establishments in Cagayan de Oro are operating without business permits depriving the city of much-needed revenues and some of them are even violating the law, the Regulatory and Complaint Board (RCB) said.

The RCB made the discovery after conducting surprise inspections on more than 30 bars, massage parlor, strip clubs, and karaoke joints along Corrales Avenue and Capistrano Street Friday night.

Beda Joy Elot, the city accountant and chair of the RCB, said the inspection they conducted was aimed at checking these businesses for permits and if they are paying the required fees to the city.

The RCB also discovered that a few of these establishments are selling alcoholic drinks to minors and some of these nightspots’ employees do not have the city government-issued health cards.

The two RCB inspection teams were composed of the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (Cocpo), city council members, various city hall departments like the offices of the city treasurer, city accountant, city social welfare and development, city information office, city health department, office of the building official, and Roads and Traffic Administration (RTA).

Elot said that last Friday’s operation was to inform the operators of their violations and to comply with the RCB recommendations.

She said city hall gave these businesses the permit even before an inspection was conducted so the owners would not be inconvenienced by the long process.

But now, Elot said, the RCB is doing the round of inspection “and we are giving them the notice to comply with the sanctions if violations are committed.”

She said the owners are already aware of their responsibilities but some of them have not been complying since inspections to these nightspots were quite loose in the in the past.

“If you are a business owner [and you] see that there is no inspection, di pud ka maghugot sa imong mga responsibilidad. They know that we are here to regulate,” she added.

Elot said the RCB teams also discovered that some of these establishments have permits but they don’t match with the permit they had applied for.

“They have permit for retailing but are [actually] operating as a bar,” she said.

Sanitation issues

Many of these nightspots also have poorly maintained toilets, but Elot said the worst violation they have committed is the selling of liquor to minors.

She said RCB has been receiving complaints from parents of children who frequent these watering holes, especially the Corrales Avenue area.

“While we understand that this is a business for the operators, they should also know their responsibility to our children,” Elot said.

Elot noticed a lot of underage customers who were drinking tried to act like they are of legal age, “but you can see from the faces that they are really minors.”

She said they are also concerned of use of “shisha” which is unsanitary since smokers often use a single pipe when smoking.

A shisha or hookah is defined as a waterpipe with a single or multi-stemmed instrument for vaporizing or smoking flavored tobacco called shisha in which the vapor or smoke is passed through a water basin --often glass-based -- before inhalation.

In one of the bars, the RCB chanced upon a group of young people using the shisha.

Health cards

Rowena Yu, health education and promotion officer of the city health office, said that it is sad to note that out of the nightclubs and bars, only one establishment has health cards for their workers.

“Others got sanitary and business permits but not health cards,” Yu said.

Yu said that securing health cards, be it food or non-food businesses and especially where there are women working as entertainers, is a must because it’s for the protection of the public.

“Magpa-secure man gani ta’g health cards sa atong mga convenience stores, how much more sa mga entertainment business?” Yu added.

“We plan to do this regularly, because we feel that this is also our responsibility. After this, the board will meet and decide how often RCB will conduct the inspection, but there will be another round of inspection,” Elot said.

Owners’ cooperative

Elot said establishment owners were cooperative.

“At first, they were apprehensive, but we explained to them that this is just part of the inspectorate task of the RCB, and that is just part of our information dissemination,” she said.

But, she added that next time RCB would be enforcing the law.

“Those who have received their notice of violation will be checked if they have already complied with whatever requirements they need to accomplish for the violations committed. If they will refuse to comply, then we will recommend to the mayor their case for further action. The stiffest is closure of the establishment,” Elot said.

The police who accompanied the inspection team also made body searches to ensure that bar patrons do not carry firearms and other deadly weapons.

An employee in one of the nightspot the RCB visited said customers who carry firearms,especially law enforcers have to check in their weapons at the counter before they can enter the establishment’s premises.

Selling drinks to minors

Teddy Sabugaa, the city social welfare and development officer, said the inspection also served as warning to bars and nightclubs which are selling alcoholic drinks to underage people that is prohibited by law.

In one bar, Sabugaa said, it has a strict policy of checking the identification card of a customer before serving liquor.

“That’s fine. I hope nga ma-maintain kana. Pero there are some nga walay pagpangita sa ID. Makita man nimo ang hitsura sa bata,” he added.

“After this, we will invite all the establishments, para mahibal-an nila unsa ilang kulang para naay discussion,” Sabuga-a said.

Neol Collado, local treasury operations officer of the city finance office, the non-compliant of the inspected nightspots in securing the annual business permits and other regulatory fees is costing the city around P200,000.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on April 07, 2014.

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