The fates of two jai-alai betting stations in Escalante City and Calatrava, Negros Occidental, are still in limbo, although Judge Conrado Manauis of the Aparri Regional Trial Court Branch 8 in Cagayan has issued an injunction against the Games and Amusement Board.
On March 3 GAB ordered the Meridien Vista Gaming Corp. to close all its off-fronton betting stations in the country, including those in Escalante and Calatrava,.
There are at least 13 stations in Metro Manila, and others elsewhere taking bets on the jai-alai games conducted by Meridien in the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport.
Angelo Santos, counsel of Meridien, yesterday said he will inquire with the company about the status of off-fronton betting stations in Negros Occidental, in response to allegations that it has committed some violations.
“We are trying to ensure that our business is legal. Any violations will not be tolerated” Santos said.
In compliance with the order of GAB, the operations of off-fronton jai-alai betting stations in Escalante City and Calatrava town in Negros Occidental have stopped operating.
Manauis, in a two-page injunction order dated March 23,, a copy of which furnished to Visayas DAILY STAR, said “in order to maintain the status quo, so as not to render any resolution or order of this Court, in respect of the aforementioned injunctive proceedings moot and academic, defendant GAB and all persons acting under its control, including the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement agencies, are hereby enjoined and restrained for a non-extendible period of 17 days from stopping the gaming operations of plaintiff (Meridien), and to restore the operation of its betting stations to its previous condition, unless any other order is issued, or is replaced by Writ of Preliminary Mandatory Injunction”.
During its hearing on injunction, Manauis said Brando Ray Raya of the Office of the Solicitor’s General argued that the court has no jurisdiction over GAB, and insisted that the petition be dismissed for lack of merit.
Jasmin Sedilla, counsel of Meridien, said GAB arbitrarily issued and enforced the Cease and Desist Order dated March 3 against her client betting stations.
Sedilla said Meridien has the authority in accordance with the law, and court decisions to pursue its gaming operations under its legislative franchise from the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority.
Manauis said the court is not persuaded to believe the contention that it did not acquire jurisdiction over defendant GAB. He, however, assured the defendant that once it receives a copy of its motion to dismiss, it shall calendar it for hearing immediately and will resolve it on its merits.
Bacoleno Juan Ramon Guanzon chairs the GAB.* GPB