Total ban on ‘pisonet’ operations not legally possible – councilors
A MOVE to ban the operations of “pisonet” in Lapu-Lapu City faced serious opposition before the city council as two councilors who were both lawyers believed that such would prohibit a legal trade.
“We might be able to regulate its operation, but I doubt with the total abolition or total ban,” said Councilor Gregorio Paquibot.
The same opinion was echoed by Councilor Flaviano Hiyas who said that while the city can exercise its police power, prohibiting a business would no longer be regulatory in nature but confiscatory.
“If you will implement a total ban, it would be impossible because pisonet is not illegal. It’s a valid business. Unfortunately this was abused by its users especially that even a child can already use it if he has a peso,” said Hiyas.
Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza earlier expressed plans to stop the operation of pisonet businesses in the city as many of them were used for illicit activities like cyberpornography.
The pisonet business is an internet cafe, usually put up in front of the operator’s house. Instead of renting a computer by the hour, customers are charged one peso for every 4-6 minutes, depending on the cafe.
Radaza explained that because the rates are easy and affordable pisonet is prone to abuse.
Users can easily access pornographic sites due to laxity of its monitoring by the operators or attendants.
Paquibot clarified that while he does not question the mayor’s wisdom, a total ban on pisonet operations should have a legal basis.
“There was even a Supreme Court decision which serves as guide to LGUs (Local Government Units) to certain businesses which are not illegal per se. We can only regulate but cannot prohibit trade,” Paquibot said.
He added that while some customers were abusive, pisonet also proved to be helpful to poor students doing research and assignments.
For his part, Hiyas suggested that instead of prohibiting its operation, the city can impose sanctions against pisonet owners, supervisors and attendants who allow their customers to open to pornographic sites.
“Operators should supervise their business. If they saw their customers exploring pornographic sites, then they should be admonished or they should bar the customer from using the pisonet,” said Hiyas.
Hiyas also proposed to increase the minimum age for internet customers to 18 years old.
“Since we can assume that they already have the discretion on how to use the internet,” he said.
Last Wednesday, the Lapu-Lapu City Council reviewed an ordinance approved in Barangay Basak which regulates the use of pisonet cafes.
The barangay ordinance was found to contain some provisions which were in violation of the Local Government Code.
“For instance, the ordinance states that pisonet operators are penalized with an amount ranging from P5,000 to P10,000 and cancellation of its business permit in the 3rd offense. This is against the Local Government Code, for barangays are only allowed to implement a penalty of not more than P1,000,” Hiyas said.
Hiyas added that under the law, barangays could only recommend the cancellation of the business permit of a certain establishment, since they can only issue clearances and not the permit itself.
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