CEBU

Bzzzzz: Mandaue cockpit's likely defense: city ordinance or gaming for charity

CEBU. Mandaue City Administrator Jamaal James Calipayan and façade of D&C Coliseum. (SunStar File)

D&C Coliseum, the cockpit in Ibabao-Estancia, Mandaue City that was raided Monday (August 5) with the police hauling to jail 372 people, most likely will present this defense to the charges filed against the owner and his personnel:

* It is legally licensed and its cockfights are covered by a permit granted on the basis of a City Council ordinance approved by the mayor. If the ordinance violated the national law, it was not the cockpit owner's fault. D&C followed regulations "in good faith."

* The "extra" or excess days of operation are authorized by Presidential Decree (PD) #449, the cockfighting law (under section 5, subsection "e"), which allows cockfighting "for tourists or for charitable purposes."

The "good faith" defense may be tenable if the prosecutor and/or the court will blame the local government officials solely for the violation. Would "ignorance of the law" benefit the entrepreneurs who relied on the authority of local officials and trusted that the documents were in order?

The "cockfight-for-charity" defense may not stand. Under the Cockfighting Law, such cockfights may be authorized by the president upon resolution of the City Council. Assuming that the power has been devolved to the mayor, the privilege can be given for only one time, for a period not exceeding three days, within a year to the local government concerned.

Local autonomy not absolute

Those who relied on local autonomy and the Local Government Code (Republic Act #7160) didn't check these out:

[1] The limits set by Cockfighting Law are not inconsistent with the power of the local government to grant and revoke permits and set rules for the operation of cockpits.

[2] The power retained by the national authority under PD #449 implements national policy for situations that are applicable nationwide. And the intent to keep the Cockfighting Law effective and in force is shown by the Local Government Code's exclusion of PD #449 from the list of laws and orders that were repealed by the passage of the code.

Mayor's stake

On one occasion, Mandaue City Administrator Jamaal James Calipayan said Mayor Jonas Cortes had divested his share of ownership of the D&C Coliseum. In another talk with media, however, Calipayan said Cortes still had "stakes" in the cockpit but the mayor had nothing to do with its management or operation. Which is correct?

And Calipayan, not anyone from D&C, is speaking out for the cockpit company. A City Hall watcher though says Calipayan in this issue is representing the mayor, not the cockpit. And the mayor, or Jonas's family, owns D&C.

The right facts

What does the Mandaue City Council ordinance on operation of cockpits expressly provide? What is the nature of the permit granted to D&C Coliseum: yearly, quarterly or monthly and what are its conditions? In whose name is the permit applied for and granted? How much revenue did the city earn from each of its two cockpits in the past five to 10 years?

There are bits of information needed by the public. City Hall will give meaning to transparency and accountability by publicizing them: posting them at its website or releasing the data to news media.

Other LGUs, which have their own cockpits to regulate, will learn from the Mandaue experience. Mandauehanons will have an informed opinion on the issue. But only if they get the facts and get them right.

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