By Corina Oliquino

MANILA — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on May 9 urged The suspension of a food park in Las Piñas City, accused of refusing to serve Filipinos and for lack of necessary permits.

DTI Sec. Ramon Lopez, who made a surprise inspection of the food park on May 9, found the 30 stalls also lacked necessary business permits and tax receipts.

“During his visit, the Secretary found no customer discrimination happening in the area since there were Filipino customers,” the DTI said in its statement, noting Lopez also summoned Las Piñas Business Permits and Licensing Office Chief Wilfredo Gaerlan to attend to all the deficiencies and to issue a Suspension of Operations pending the correction of the necessary permits, according to the Trade department.

DTI noted the license and permit of a business under MFD Cuisine were the only ones displayed in the area. Lopez also observed there were different receipts per stall in Chinese characters lacking, as well proper individual business permits and official receipts from the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

“There was also a lack of proper waste disposal and waste treatment facility since food wastes went directly to the canals and into the adjacent creek,” DTI noted.

“The DTI team likewise saw about five foreign-looking personnel running through the backdoor as they were arriving, which suggested that they didn’t have the proper workers’ permits,” it added.

Lopez also immediately relayed the findings to the Secretaries of the Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Labor and Employment, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for proper action, according to the DTI.
Malacañang’s call for a probe.

In another report by The Philippine Star, on May 6, Malacañang called for a probe on claims that some local restaurants and shops are catering exclusively to Chinese nationals.

The Palace also urged customers to lodge complaints against establishments refusing service following reports some Chinese-owned stores in Pasay, Mandaluyong and Makati are not open to do business with Pinoys.

“We have to investigate that if that is true. We cannot allow that to happen. They cannot be discriminating against Filipinos. It’s a public business and therefore it should cater to all,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said at a press briefing.

“We have to investigate first the truth of the report. We will ask (Labor) Sec. (Silvestre) Bello to conduct an investigation on the same,” Panelo said, when asked if the Palace also agreed with Sen. Panfilo Lacson if Chinese-only establishments should be closed.

“The better step or thing to do is to file a complaint. You engage the owner or try to force yourself – you will only trigger a fight,” Panelo added.

In another report by Manila Bulletin, several senators have urged the government to close down businesses in the country discriminating against Filipinos.

“Business firms operating in Philippines are not allowed to discriminate. Limiting customers to Chinese people only is a form of discrimination. If Filipino-owned business establishments are not allowed to do this then all the more foreign-owned businesses here in the Philippines should not be allowed to do what Filipinos cannot do under the law,” Sen. Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel said in a statement.

“The law must be enforced evenly. Especially that in this form of discrimination, it is directed against the Filipino, the Filipino is the victim of the discrimination! Close them down for violating the Constitution,” Pimentel added.

Lacson, on the other hand, is also urging the government to look into whether or not such establishments comply with current regulations, such tax remittances and foreign-equity requirements.

Moreover, Sen. Joel Villanueva pointed out that all businesses in the country, from big companies to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), should also comply with laws on foreign ownership, urging DTI to monitor the presence of foreigner-owned establishments to make sure they adhere with current laws and regulations such as the Retail Trade Law and the MSME Law.