Pagcor files charges against judge for closing casino

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) has filed administrative and disbarment complaints against Judge Dennis Perez of Regional Trial Court Branch 67, Binangonan, Rizal for issuing a temporary restraining order (TRO) causing the closure of the Fiesta Casino Hotel and Resort located inside the East Bay Economic Zone.

The TRO was issued allegedly to protect the right of the Municipality of Binangonan to collect mayor’s permit and business permit from the casino.

But, according to the complaint filed by the state-run gaming firm, the TRO is in violation of existing laws such as Presidential Decree (PD) 771 which removes the authority of local government units (LGUs) to issue permits and license for the operation of casino.

Furthermore, it also violates PD 1869 which gives exemptions from tax, fees and other charges of whatever kind or nature, local or national to parties with contract with Pagcor.

The complaint also stated the TRO contradicted a Memorandum of the President to the Secretary of Interior and Local Government in 1996 which confirmed that only the national government has the power to issue licenses or permits for the operation gaming since such power was withdrawn from the local government units as early as 1975.

Also, the casino, which is located in the East Day Economic Zone, is further given autonomy from the LGU through Republic Act 7916 or the Ecozone Law. Under this law, LGUs have no authority inside Ecozones and their role is merely advisory in nature.

Pagcor’s complaint comes in the wake of the dialogue between Chief Justice Reynato Puno and the 17 division chairmen of the Court of Appeals to address the complaint of the government regarding rumored “TROs-for-sale.”

This came after several dismissed and suspended officials were able to secure TROs from the appellate court to counter dismissal and suspension orders of the Ombudsman.