MANILA – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has reiterated that local governments have no power to issue business permits or licenses to state-run agencies such as the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
The DOJ reiterated its legal opinion issued in 1995 following an inquiry by Negros Occidental assistant city legal officer Atty. Bimbo Lavides on the legality of Bingo Milyonaryo (BM) operations without a valid mayor's or business permit.
Lavides also sought the DOJ’s legal opinion on whether or not its betting agent can operate without a betting station in the city, and what remedies the city may avail of in case it wants to eliminate BM operations within its jurisdiction.
BM is a PCSO-operated numbers game similar to a lottery, which has faced controversy following allegations that it is being used as a front for illegal games such as "jueteng" and "masiao."
Citing Department's Opinion No. 74, Justice Sec. Leila de Lima held that while Sections 447 and 458 of the Local Government Code of 1991 gives LGUs authority to regulate businesses within their respective territories and impose license fees, it does not have the power over national government, its agencies and instrumentalities.
The DOJ legal opinion in 1995 stated, "Its duly appointed sales agents are as you have pointed out, mere extensions of the PCSO, and should, like the PCSO, be also considered exempt from the licensing authority of the LGUs where they operate.”
However, de Lima did not render an opinion on the issues noting that the resolution of the issue would require interpretation and examination of the pertinent provisions of Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991, which falls within the jurisdiction of the Oversight Committee.
The Oversight Committee is mandated by law to promulgate the rules and regulations necessary for the implementation of the said Code, and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
De Lima reiterated the DOJ's Opinion No. 74 for Lavides’ "information and guidance."