The City Council, in a split vote, affirmed on Monday the lifting of the liquor ban, following a heated debate among councilors.

The Council voted 6-4 to sustain the lifting of the ban. One member abstained from voting.

Two days after the lifting of the 2-month liquor ban, some councilors led by Councilors Elgin Damasco pushed to restore the ban, citing a spark of crime incidents over the weekend.

In a privilege speech, Damasco claimed the lifting of liquor ban last Friday triggered violence within the city after series of crime incidents reported over the weekend.

“Ayon sa report ng Philippine National Police (PNP), 78 percent ng krimen ang ibinaba sa buong bansa. Ayon na mismo sa City Information Office (CIO) chief [Richard] Ligad, simula noong May 16, noong na-lift ang liquor ban, dumami ang krimen,” Damasco said.

“Sampu ang na-respondehan, dalawa ang nagself-crash dahil sa lasing ang driver, at isa ang banggaan. Hindi ito nangyari noong may liquor ban sa Puerto [Princesa City],” Damasco added

Councilor Jimmy Carbonell, former chief of police (COP) of PNP-PPC, affirmed Damasco’s statement pointing out that he has personally observed the same circumstances during his previous stint as a police officer.

Councilor Patrick Hagedorn, assistant minority floor leader, objected to Damasco’s move, claiming that the police incidents cited were not related to the liquor ban lifting.

“To blame alcohol is like blaming food kung bakit ka tumaba,” Hagedorn added.

Councilor Herbert Dilig, a former prosecutor, questioned the police data citing that the law enforcement in the city has no breathalyzer, a device used to measure alcohol content in the body using a person’s breath, to back-up the claims.

Dilig also contended that the knee-jerk move to once again enforce the alcohol prohibition will be a “mediate action” that would have repercussions on the city’s economy and residents, without indispensable proof of criminal links to liquor consumption.

“Wala sa alak ang dahilan, nasa tao. Just because nakainom, ‘yon na ba agad ang dahilan kaya may krimen?,” Dilig said.

Subsequently, Dilig moved a resolution for local law enforcement’s strict implementation of Republic Act (RA) 10586, or the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act of 2013. The Council unanimously approved the proposed resolution, dispensing its second and final reading.

Under the said law, the legal limit for a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.05% (0% for bus drivers and motorcycle riders). The alcohol content would be measured by a device, commonly through a breathalyzer.

Councilor Roy Ventura, chairman of Committee on Health of the City Council, likened the situation to the illegal drug trade. He said that prohibiting the selling and use of illegal drugs also did not stop the continued drug-related crime being reported.

“Bakit nakatutok tayo sa alcohol? Siguro masyado lang na-excite ‘yong mga tao. Parang kapag bagong bili ng cellphone, tutok na tutok din tayo. Isipin natin economical side. Kailangan din ng kita,” Ventura said.

Mayor Lucilo Bayron, in Executive Order No. 2020-025 signed on May 14, has lifted the liquor ban in Puerto Princesa starting May 16 to 31, or during the general community quarantine (GCQ) period. However, public consumption of alcoholic beverages to still be prohibited.