The Supreme Court Third Division granted the petition of the City of Bacolod to affirm and reinstate the March 20, 2007 decision of the Regional Trial Court Branch 49 that the closure of the bingo outlet headed by Claudio Puentevella at SM City-Bacolod is valid because of misrepresentation, and to set aside the Feb. 27, 2009 decision of the Court of Appeals.
The case was filed by Phuture Visions Co., represented by Puentevella its president, against Mayor Evelio Leonardia, the late City Legal Officer Allan Zamora, and Lemuel Reynaldo, after the city officials padlocked its bingo outlet at SM City Bacolod on March 3, 2007 for lack of a business permit.
In the notice of judgment of the Supreme Court dated January 17, Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. said “Considering that respondent (VTI) has no legal right to operate the bingo operations at the outset, then it is not entitled to damages which it is demanding from the petitioners.”
Bacolod City Legal Office Joselito Bayatan yesterday said VTI filed a petition for mandamus and damages before the RTC asking that it be granted a business permit, but lost.
So it elevated the case to the Court of Appeals where it partially won, since the court will hear the closure of the bingo outlet case because it is entitled to damages, he said.
So the city filed an appeal with the Supreme Court citing that if the closure is valid because of the clear misrepresentation, there is no need to hear the damages petition since the city is not liable to pay, Bayatan said.
It cannot be sued, because the city, by imposing its police power, is immune from suit, he said.
“In other words, we have a complete victory in this case,” he added.
The Supreme Court cited that on Jan. 10, 2007, PVI applied for the renewal of its business permit with “professional services, band/entertainment services” as its declared line of business, with business address at “RH Building, 26 Lacson Street, Barangay 5” instead of SM Bacolod where its bingo operation was located.
Without waiting for the release of the mayor’s permit, VTI started the operation of its bingo outlet at SM Bacolod, it said.
The RTC had already ruled in its Sept. 6, 2007 decision that PVI had no right/or authority to operate bingo games at SM Bacolod because it did not have a business permit, and had not paid the assessment for bingo operation.
Thus, it held that the petitioners acted lawfully in stopping VTI’s bingo operation on March 2, 2007 and closing its establishment for lack of any business permit.*CGS
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