LGUs have no power to conduct raids; Porac mayor cites SC rulings

PORAC, Pampanga – “The suggestion to break the premises of the POGO site after the refusal of the guards (to allow entry) may not be in accordance with the law.”

Thus, said Mayor Jaime “Jing” Capil of his highly criticized stance of the LGU allegedly failing to inspect the Lucky South 99 Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) hub in his municipality prior to the raid of the premises by the Presidential Anti-Organized Commission in early June. 

In a media conference at the municipal hall here on June 28, Capil noted that the Rules and Regulations for POGO (RR-POGO) approved by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. Board of Directors on Sept. 1, 2016 indicated the government agency as the regulator of gaming licenses operating in the territorial jurisdiction of the Philippines on land or on sea. 

The RR-POGO also determined that for monitoring purposes, licensee shall allow inspection of the premises, machines and equipment at any given time upon request of Pagcor’s monitoring team. They also noted that Pagcor created a monitoring task force to conduct surveillance and monitoring activities to locate and identify illegal gambling operators; and to report violations which are being committed by licensed offshore operators against these regulations. 

Capil also cited Presidential Decree 771 which revoked all powers and authority of local government to grant franchise, license or permit and regulate forms of gambling. 

He clarified, though, that the Porac LGU along with the Porac PNP had conducted joint inspections twice in the Lucky South 99 premises on Aug. 25, 2023 and May 3, 2024, upon the request of the PNP to ensure compliance with local and national regulations. In both inspections, no violations were reported, he added.  

The Porac LGU recognized the legal complexities associated with joint inspections conducted in collaboration with the PNP, saying “The Porac LGU has no power to inspect or investigate commercial establishments.”

Lim vs. CA, Pilapil vs. People

Citing Supreme Court rulings in Lim vs. CA (G.R. No. 111397, Aug. 12 2002) and Pilapil vs. People (G.R. No. 228608, Aug. 27, 2020), Capil quoted: “establish that while local government units have the authority to inspect commercial establishments, this authority does not extend to conducting police raids or warrantless searches in partnership with the police under the guise of administrative inspections.” 

Furthered Capil of Lim vs. CA case: “True, the mayor has the power to inspect and investigate private commercial establishments for any violation of the conditions of their licenses and permits. However, the mayor has no power to order a police raid on these establishments in the guise of inspecting or investigating these commercial establishments. Lim acted beyond his authority when he directed policemen to raid the New Bangkok Club and the Exotic Garden Restaurant.” 

In the Pilapil vs. People case, “Mayor Pilapil’s seizure of the subject explosives is illegal and cannot be justified under the plain view doctrine. The warrantless ocular inspection of the mining site operated by BCMC and Prime Rock that preceded such seizure, and which allowed Mayor Pilapil and his team of police officers and barangay officials to catch a view of the subject explosives, finds no authority under any provision of any law.” 

Capil disclosed that the joint inspections conducted by the LGU and the PNP “are not the only ones conducted by the Municipality of Porac.” 

In 2019 up to present, the Porac LGU “carried several inspections through the Engineer’s Office, Sanitary Office, MENRO, BPLO, and other offices, that is, even without the presence of the police.” During those inspections, “no crime was ever seen” at the Lucky South 99 premises. 

‘Preposterous’

“The assumption that had the LGU pushed through and insisted on breaking into the premises of the POGO site during the time of the joint inspection with the PNP would lead to the discovery of heinous crimes being clandestinely done inside the premises, is not only preposterous but is already a form of invalid warrantless search,” Capil said. 

“What the PNP could have done, had it harbored any doubts during that time, was to request the issuance of a search warrant,” he added. Punto News Team

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