Court denies TRO plea of bar owners

THE Regional Trial Court Branch 6 of Baguio City denied for lack of basis the bar owners’ plea for the issuance of a temporary restraining order in its suit for damages filed against the City Government over its implementation of the Liquor Code.

“The Court deems it best and more prudent not to issue a (TRO) as there is no ground to do so and there is no grave or irreparable injury posing as threat to the lives or properties of the plaintiffs,” Acting Presiding Judge Cecilia Corazon Dulay-Archog said in a resolution dated on March 2.

The Court then set the hearing on the application for preliminary injunction on March 19.

In the case filed last March 1 against the City Government under Mayor Mauricio Domogan and the City Council under Vice Mayor Edison Bilog and City Police Director Ramil Saculles, the Corporate Innovators Baguio Inc. represented by Allan Bandoy sought the issuance of a 72-hour TRO to stop the City Government from implementing the closure orders against eight establishments facing clampdown for violation of the Liquor Code.

They also sought payment of damages amounting to P110,000 for the fines paid despite lack of court proceedings and P50,000 attorney’s fees and the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction to restrain the City Government from implementing the liquor ordinance and ultimately to declare sections 9 and 10 of the ordinance (which set the closing time for night establishments with and without dancing) “void.”

In their complaint, the owners of the bars, cafes and restaurants, music lounges, folk houses, videoke bars and clubs claimed they had suffered “drastic decline in sales” and “harassment by police officers” in the implementation of the of the Liquor Ordinance from March 2017.

They also claimed that “fines were meted out without due process of law.”
They claimed this operation of the police continued even with the approval last December of City Council Resolution No. 433 series of 2017 which asks the city police and the bar owners to allow customers to consume their orders in relation of the operating hours of establishments.

They also claimed that section 9 of the ordinance is not fairly implemented as there were those allowed to operate beyond the closing time and therefore violates that “equal protection clause” of the Constitution and also “curtails the liberty of the patrons who are visiting these affected establishments.”

Section 10, they claimed, should also be declared as unconstitutional as it “vaguely placed the application of penalties under the power of the executive through the police officers in complete disregard of the Doctrine of Separation of Powers.”

In its position paper, the City Government through lawyer Marie May Buliyat of the City Legal Office said that the claims of the plaintiffs were without basis and lacked a “cause of action” and asked for case’s dismissal. (Aileen Refuerzo)
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