Dipolog City Council gets flak for plan to regulate selling and serving of liguor

In a meeting at the West End Court Inn on April 23, owners of hotels, resorts, and restaurants in the city said the proposed ordinance is “insensitive and an alarming piece of legislation that encroaches upon the sacred right of every individual to exercise their freedom to choose.”

The city council last week passed on second reading the proposed ordinance that seeks to “regulate the sale, service and dispensation of liquors and other alcoholic drinks.”

Authored by Councilor Horacio Velasco and co-authored by Councilor Julius Napigquit, the proposed ordinance requires the establishments to sell and serve liquors only from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. It also prohibits “drinking liquor and other alcoholic drinks at any given time of the day except in beach resorts and places allowed by the city government."

According to Napigquit, the proposed measure was crafted after the observation that many students and minors are seen drinking liquor despite the prohibition to sell liquor to persons below 18 years old.         

“The greater danger when this proposed ordinance will be passed is not its adverse effects on the business and tourism industry of the city but its effect on each of our liberty to decide what is best for us at any given time of the day,” Edwin Capili, HRRAD president, said.

He pointed out that “when the problem is about minors’ access to liquor despite prohibition, why penalize all the same responsible adults who have the inherent personal rights to decide what is right for them?”

“This is not only about business and money local businessmen earned through honest-to-goodness business practice. This is about personal liberty,” he added.

In a statement drafted during the meeting and distributed to local media, the HRRAD asserted that “the proposed ordinance in spite of its good intention to discourage drunkenness in the city is clearly a repressive regulatory piece of legislation that encroaches on the sacred right of every individual to exercise his/her freedom without being dictated upon.”

“It is very clear that by the act of imposing time when to sell, service and dispense liquors and other alcoholic drinks is a curtailment of the right of every individual to indulge in things by which he/she is entitled to as a responsible adult in a free society. That in the process of creating a poignant picture of the city populated by sober individuals, the legislation is trampling upon the right of the people whom it aims to protect,” the HRRAD statement said.

The HRRAD also sounded the alarm of the effect of the proposed measure on the city’s business sector.

“Instead of thinking how to enhance the existing business conditions in the face of global financial crisis, the authors of the proposed ordinance are thinking of clipping the flow of business thereby shrinking the economic activity in the city. The proposed ordinance is a very good example of an anti-business and regressive piece of legislation that must be junked immediately by the members of the city council,” it said.

In the same statement, HRRAD reminded the city council that Dipolog City has become one of the favorite tourist destinations in the country, among Filipinos and foreigners.

It warned that “the influx of tourists, lured by our invitation and sales pitch of fun in the sun, contributes a considerable part of the city’s direct and indirect revenue. This positive growth of local tourism will be adversely affected once the proposed ordinance (is) passed and implemented knowing that most tourists, especially the foreigners, love to indulge their appetite in foods and drinks that our business establishments offer.” 

The proposed ordinance, the statement said, will “effectively discourage tourists to come and stay and have fun in the city. If the City Council is looking for a bad legislation that will shrink our share in the booming tourism industry, this proposed ordinance is one.”

 “It is better if the City Council will start looking at the deteriorating peace and order condition and come up with appropriate measures to make the city a better place for each one of us to live in,” Capili said. (Antonio M. Manaytay/MindaNews)