By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
After suspending China Food City, a restaurant business in Las Pinas City for various violations, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is rushing the issuance of a department administrative order (DAO), requiring all establishments to have all its signages in foreign languages translated into English.
“We are rushing it,” said Trade and Industry Undersecretary Ruth Castelo.
The proliferation of small establishments with signages in all-foreign language, mostly in Chinese, has come to the attention of the DTI after Senator Panfilo Lacson raised alarm over what seemed to be encroachment by foreign-owned businesses in the small and medium domestic retail sector, a sector reserved to Filipino nationals.
The Philippine Retailers Association of the Philippines (PRAP) also supported Lacson’s call to protect small and medium retailers.
Castelo said they have already suspended China Food City for various violations. The restaurant has already stopped operation.
“The suspension is indefinite until they comply,” said Castelo.
On Thursday, Lopez conducted a surprise inspection of the establishment for allegedly serving only Chinese customers. In that his visit, the Secretary found that all 30 stalls in the food city had different receipts printed in Chinese.
The license and permit of the business under MFD Cuisine were the only ones visible and available in the area.
“If all the stalls are under one ownership and registration, there must also be a common receipt,” the trade chief said.
Lopez observed that there were different receipts per stall, and they were in Chinese characters, which meant they did not have the proper individual business permits and official receipts from the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
Lopez has also asked the Las Piñas government to evaluate if the business permit of the food hub applied to all the 30 food stalls in the complex.
Lopez also did not see proper sanitation permits on display. 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.
The DTI team likewise saw about five foreign-looking personnel running through the backdoor as they were arriving, which suggested that they did not have the proper workers’ permits.
But there was no customer discrimination happening in the area since there were Filipino customers.
The DTI chief immediately summoned Las Piñas Business Permits and Licensing Office Chief Wilfredo Gaerlan to attend to all these deficiencies and to issue a Suspension of Operations pending the correction of the necessary permits.
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.