By: Emme Rose Santiagudo
IT HAS been a week since all bars and similar establishments in Iloilo City were allowed to operate beyond 2 a.m.
Mayor Jerry Treñas last week issued EO 46-2019 to formally repeal EO 146-2017 issued by former mayor Jose Espinosa III.
Espinosa issued the 2 a.m. curfew at the height of violent incidents involving nightspots and other leisure areas in 2017.
Contrary to the expected surge in crimes, police said leisure areas remained peaceful a week after the repeal of EO 146.
“Wala tayong incidents na directly linked sa lifting of EO 146,” Senior Superintendent Martin Defensor Jr., director of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO), confirmed in a phone interview on Monday.
In fact, Defensor said they recorded a decrease in crimes in the past week compared to the same period last year.
“Last year, we recorded 55 incidents of index and non-index crimes in a week but just last week for the same period, nag 38 na lang, may 17 nga pagnubo sa incidents,” he said.
According to Defensor, bar operators have been compliant with the guidelines set by EO 46, especially owners of big establishments.
“We have deployed personnel all over the districts in the city and we are distributing emergency hotline numbers just in case may mga incidents nga they can call us for assistance, and almost naman malalaking bars nagcomply sila sa manifesto na kinomit nila,” he said.
Some resto-bars and small establishments in the metro were given exceptions.
Defensor said they are having a hard time with small business establishments since they cannot be compelled to install CCTVs and hire security guards because of their limited finances.
“Pero yung mga resto bars, na medyo ma-classify natin na mababa yung income, hindi natin sila ma-compel na magkaroon ng security guard and CCTVs,” he said.
As of now, Defensor said they are still discussing how to respond to the situation, adding that the bars need to be classified according to their income.
He added that he is hopeful that the decreasing crime incidents will be maintained in the coming months.
“I hope we can maintain that, actually choice din yan ng mga residente sa Iloilo yan, yung mga frequent clienteles sa bar, ila na choice if i-preserve nila ang peace and order sa bars kasi tayo dapat sa city we need to work together to maintain the peace and order,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, although thankful for the repeal of the EO, business establishments in the metro can hardly feel its effect a week after the repeal.
Jim Velez, president of the Iloilo Smallville Business Association said that it will take time before customers and Ilonggos flock bars and similar establishments in the metro.
“Indi pa man bal-an sang tanan, yung pagbalik ng customer natin not abruptly na unlike before, but this will be slowly and surely. Give them a month and it will be normal,” he said.
Velez said one of the many factors would be the bad weather and the recent sea tragedy that forced Ilonggos to stay in their homes.
“Isa da ka factor nga indi mafeel yung revoking because first of all ang sama ng panahon for the past weeks and the tragedy so indi pa gid ma-feel ang impact sang revocation,” he said.
Despite this, Velez said they are very thankful for the move of the mayor since almost all bar establishments in the metro are already losing.
He emphasized that the repeal of EO 146 is both economically beneficial not only to the bar owners and operators but also to the city government and other business establishments.
“It’s a win-win situation for everybody because indi lang man bar ang mabenefit but hotels and other businesses. At the same time, businesses contribute to the taxes paid to the government,” Velez added.
From a dull city, Velez said that Iloilo City is now on its way to become a city that is alive and full of energy because of the repeal of EO 146.
He noted that it will complement the mayor’s “Iloilo to the next level” campaign as well as its thrust to become a new Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) destination.