Thus stressed Mayor Edgardo “Ed” Pamintuan during an emergency meeting on Saturday with businessmen who owns major establishments along Fields Avenue and Friendship Perimeter Road.
Pamintuan told bar and hotel owners that the city government has started laying down the local regulatory and policy environment not only in addressing human trafficking issues involving night clubs operating in the city but also in the long term and holistic approach to the problem.
He said the recent raids on bars along Fields Avenue conducted jointly by the Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) were beyond his control.
“That is why I keep on reminding you (bar owners) to observe and comply national laws and local ordinances concerning your operations to avoid these incidents of raids conducted by the national law enforcement agencies,” the mayor said.
Pamintuan was joined by his former chief of staff Alexander Cauguiran, now executive vice president of Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) during the meeting
It was reported earlier that business owners in the city’s entertainment district warned local authorities that they will pull-out their investments should harassment and extortion activities would not be stopped.
“My administration means business in our campaign against human trafficking and in transforming the image of Fields Avenue,” Pamintuan said.
He also urged for the support of the city’s business owners in forming an organization that will deal with the current misinformation and prejudice of national authorities against the city.
The organization, he said, would necessarily be a composite of different sectors of the city – in business, law enforcement, and local government. The mayor hopes to get someone from the national level to be part of the team as well.
The organization’s first task will be to help the mayor in his presentation in defense of the city’s entertainment industry and in the delivery of accurate and unprejudiced data of the nightlife strip’s business operations.
“We need to come up with real facts,” the mayor stressed.
Furthermore, Pamintuan emphasized during the meeting the need for the city’s tourism plan to gain full support from the businessmen.
In light of the close scrutiny on the entertainment strip, it becomes all the more necessary to concretize the transformation of Fields Avenue into a wholesome district filled with bars and restaurants and with a controlled area for adult entertainment.
Among his first official acts as mayor, Pamintuan issued Executive Order No. 13 on July 23, 2010 creating the Angeles City Task Force Against Human Trafficking which provides the regulatory and enforcement infrastructure and the social, moral and economic rehabilitation of victims of human trafficking.
To help curb human trafficking in Angeles City, it was also suggested during the meeting that the city should come up with an ordinance setting minimum age of women working in night clubs to 21 years; organization of night club and entertainment industry workers and establishment owners for the purpose of policing their own ranks and strict implementation of local regulations on business permits, licenses and tax payments.