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Vendors to picket Talisay City hall

CEBU, Philippines – Vendors at Tabunok Public Market are set to hold a protest rally today in front of the Talisay City Hall to reportedly oppose their impending transfer to the new public market-cum terminal in barangay Lagtang.

There is no official statement from the vendors' association yet, but public information officer Arturo Bas said that it was one of the issues raised during their weekly meeting yesterday with Mayor Socrates Fernandez.

Bas said there has been no specific plan yet as to when exactly these vendors will be transferred to the new facility considering that it is still under construction.

And besides, the proposed circumferential road along the Mananga River from the old public market to the adjacent barangay of Lagtang will still have to be constructed before the new market will be opened, he said.

This new road, which was proposed by Councilor Rodi Cabigas being chairman on council committee on Infrastructure in the early part of 2008, is to make the new market accessible to market goers.

The accessibility to the multi-million facility, which was started in 2004 but until now has not yet been completed, is one of the apprehensions of the vendors.

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Compared to the Tabunok Public Market, which is just beside the tricycle parking area, and along the national highway, the public market in Lagtang is in the inner part of the village.

It is not only quite far for most of the city residents, especially those living in the barangay Poblacion and its neighboring areas, but also means additional expenses.

The vendors believe that with the new market's alleged remoteness, their old customers will likely just stop over at a private market just across the Tabunok Public Market.

The city in 2006, through its then legal officer Aurora Econg, had deemed the existence of the private market as illegal as it competes with the public market.

Hence, around that time its application for a business permit was not approved.

But until now, the market still exists, prompting the public market vendors to believe it would continue to remain there even after they shall have transferred to the new facility in Lagtang.

Bas said Fernandez will try to talk with the vendors to explain to them the side of the city.

He however assured that the date of their transfer has not been set yet.

"Ang mga fish vendor sa Tabunok Public Market ang mag-rally unya motambong sila sa session (today). Pero dugay pa kaayo nang plano nga pagbalhin sa market, di pa karon," said Bas.

Earlier however, Cabigas said that if "everything goes smoothly this time," the opening of the new market will "definitely" push through on October.

The transfer, according to him, has to be done considering that the old public market building is already decaying with age.

But this was also what he said early this year, in assurance that the new facility, which critics dubbed as a "white elephant'' taking into account that it has not been used for the last six years, would finally be opened to select vendors only in March while waiting for its completion.

March came and went however the market has still be locked while its coat of paint is slowly peeling off.

There were even reports that the building, which sits on a 2.6-hectare property just along the Mananga River, was used as a drug den and a temporary shelter for animals in the area.

Reportedly, the city has shelled out P70 million of the P100-million budget for the construction of this supposedly modern facility. (THE FREEMAN)

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