Dela Cruz
Divisoria vendor payoff collector nabbed
Rey Galupo (The Philippine Star) - July 16, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Two persons were arrested in a sting on Friday for allegedly collecting payoffs from vendors in Divisoria, Manila, officials said yesterday.

Melanie dela Cruz, 39, and Marlon Carpio, 19, were apprehended after receiving marked money from officers of the Manila Police District’s Special Mayor’s Reaction Team at the corner of Juan Luna street and C.M. Recto Avenue, said SMaRT deputy chief Maj. Cicero Pura.

The operation stemmed from a complaint filed with SMaRT by vendor Imelda Sonza, who told police she had been paying Dela Cruz P500 per day for her stall along C.M. Recto.

SMaRT chief Maj. Rosalino Ibay ordered the surveillance and entrapment operation last Wednesday.

Dela Cruz initially denied allegations she was asking P500 to P1,000 from vendors. She refused to comment on surveillance videos showing her receiving money, Ibay said. 

One of the vendors told The STAR that they have been paying a daily “rental fee” from organizers like Dela Cruz or risk being booted out.

The suspects allegedly belong to a group whose members collect around P5 million each day in payoffs from Divisoria vendors.

Mayor Isko Moreno earlier said that in his first week in office, an organizer offered him P5 million each day to refrain from removing the vendors clogging Manila’s streets.

Ibay said vendors should not be paying the organizers and should go directly to the city hall to seek a permit.

Lagusnilad cleared

Also yesterday, Moreno ordered the demolition of stalls along the Lagusnilad underpass near the city hall.

“Our objective is to put order in the city. We will allow the vendors to ply their trade but we cannot allow anarchy to rule,” he said as he supervised the demolition.

He earlier revoked a special permit given to Samira Datucan, owner of SBD Events and Exhibits Management, said to be the organizer of the vendors at the city hall underpass.

Datucan was found to have violated one of the permit’s conditions, which states that all stallholders should secure business permits and pay the corresponding fees and taxes.

Moreno said his next target is the Lacson underpass near the Quiapo Church. The underpass has been converted into a shopping mall, he said.

MELANIE DELA CRUZ
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