Manila shuts down Isetann Recto for lacking permits

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 9) — The city government of Manila has shut down Isetann Cinerama Complex along CM Recto Avenue, Quiapo after finding that it lacks permits to operate.

Manila Mayor Isko Morneo served the closure order on the mall himself and padlocked the establishment on Wednesday.

“We have no recourse, wala kaming choice. Kailangan naming ipatupad ang batas, mapamahirap, middle class o mayaman dito sa lungsod ng Maynila,” Moreno said.

[Translation: We have no recourse, we don’t have a choice. We need to implement the law, whether for the poor, the middle class, or the rich here in the city of Manila.]

The city’s Bureau of Permits and Licensing has found that the mall is only allowed to do business as a shopping center with an area of 1,000 square meters with 10 employees. The bureau estimated that the mall has an area of 20,000 square meters, including the department store, supermarket, parking area and cinemas.

It noted that mall operator Tri-Union Properties, Inc. misrepresented in its application for a business permit the actual business area and provided a “questionable number of employees.”

The bureau said Isetann did not have a permit to lease out stalls and spaces to tenants.

It also found that Trans-Orient Management Services, Inc., which provides property management functions and services for the mall has no valid and existing business permit.

It also said that only one of four of the mall’s cinemas has a valid business permit.

The bureau recommended closing down the mall for its management’s violation of Section 118 of City Ordinance 8331 and misrepresentation in the application for a business permit.

Moreno said Isetann will remain closed until its management complies with necessary permits.

The mall management said it was surprised at the closure. It added it has a lessor's permit, but did not specify how and when it ws obtained.

Isetann's management said it will discuss plans to assist tenants and employees affected by the closure. Most of the shopkeepers and employees that CNN Philippines spoke to said the mall management has yet to reach out to them.

Some tenants said they will relocate to other malls.

The crackdown on the mall began after Moreno ordered a ban on the sale of secondhand phones, which Isetann had plenty of.

CNN Philippines’ Xave Gregorio and Dessy Rae Bautista contributed to this report.