Manila vendors go on market holiday

Jose Rodel Clapano (The Philippine Star) - September 14, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Vendors in Manila went on a holiday yesterday to protest the local government’s plan to privatize public markets in the city.

The vendors gathered at around 8 a.m. at the Trabajo public market and marched to the Sampaloc market to join more protesters.

They proceeded to the Quinta market then marched toward the city hall where they were joined by vendors from Sta. Ana, Pritil, Dagonoy and San Andres.

The vendors and stall owners under the Save Manila Public Market Alliance are against the privatization of 17 public markets in the city.

Mayor Joseph Estrada, however, assured the vendors that the joint venture agreement entered into by city government with a private company is not intended to privatize public markets in the city.

In a dialogue with the vendors and stall owners, Estrada said the markets would be rehabilitated and not privatized.

“The city government is still the owner of the markets contrary to what is being fed to the vendors,” Estrada said.

He said the Sta. Ana market is just undergoing renovation and would not be demolished.

The vendors and stall owners are opposing Ordinance 8346, which was signed by Estrada on May 13, 2014, allowing the city government to enter into a joint venture with private companies for the rehabilitation of the city’s public markets.

Aside from public markets, the ordinance covers ports, housing, land reclamation projects, highways, hospitals and health services, education and school facilities.

The measure will offer the city government’s owned businesses, social services and markets to joint ventures with private firms.

Estrada’s secretary Edward Serapio said the city government is protecting the vendors.

Serapio said the public markets would remain under the control of the city government following the rehabilitation.

Reports from radio station dzBB said the vendors opened early but closed their stalls and joined the protest.

Rental fee stopped

The payment of P40 daily rental at the Quinta market will be stopped while the rehabilitation is ongoing, city hall officials said.

Estrada assured the vendors that the rehabilitation of the markets would not result in higher rental fees.

He said the renovation of markets in the city would benefit the vendors as it would attract more buyers.

Old wet markets in Manila emit foul odors and are riddled with piles of trash, he said.

For his part, former mayor and now Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza urged Estrada to reconsider the plan to privatize public markets in the city.

“It is against the city charter and the Local Government Code because the operation of public markets is a public service that should be provided by the local government and not by private corporations. The small vendors and the consumers will be affected,” he said. – With Aie Balagtas See

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