Issue of November 4, 2018

Panagbenga Flower Festival
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City Hall all set to padlock erring stores at Maharlika
by Rimaliza A. Opiña

Beginning Jan. 1, 2019, bars operating at the 5th, 6th, and 7th floors of the Maharlika Livelihood Complex will cease to operate.

The closure of these bars is in compliance with the directive of the Permits and Licensing Division that said the bars operating in said building are violating the Tax Ordinance particularly the provision that prohibits the sale of liquor within the public market.

Maharlika is within the public market, albeit managed and operated by the Department of Agriculture and previously, the Ministry of Human Settlements.

During the session of the city council last Oct. 29, Maharlika Livelihood Complex Project Manager Rocky Thomas Balisong said the management will abide by the directive of the city government.

“It is within the power of the LGU to enforce the (tax) ordinance. The management stands firm that if there are violations, we will respect (the decision) of the LGU.”

The bars pay their rent to the Pablo L. Palangdao (PLP) Business Complex, said to be a subcontractor of Maharlika Livelihood Complex.

Lease contracts entered into by the Palangdao Business Complex and bar owners will all end on 2025.

In its contract with Maharlika, Palangdao may rent out spaces at the 5th, 6th, and 7th floors of the building but should remit P200,000 monthly to the Maharlika management.

However, Balisong said PLP’s contract also states that PLP should be a “real estate lessor” only. This means that the spaces to be or that were rented out should have been limited mostly to office spaces only, not bars. 

Balisong said Palangdao may continue with his business at Maharlika provided that his lessors will change their line of business in consonance with what is provided for in the city’s ordinances.

Balisong said PLP and the lessors are aware of the impending closure for they have been given several notices by the Permits and Licensure Division.

The Maharlika management was invited to the city council after some councilors raised concern about the peace and order situation at the area.

Councilors Edgar Avila, Mylen Yaranon, and Elaine Sembrano said the operation of bars at Maharlika contributed to the high incidence of crimes at the area.

Aside from violating the Tax Ordinance, Sembrano said bar operators are also violating other city ordinances such as allowing the entry of minors and dispensing liquor to minors, among other violations.

Yaranon said it appeared that the lessors are “autonomous” by following their own set of rules.

Avila said the leeway given to bars in other parts of Baguio should not be enjoyed by lessors at Maharlika in view of the fact that they are violating the Tax Ordinance.

PLP is expected to attend the city council’s session tomorrow to shed light on how it operates.

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