Isko: I’m not anti-vendor

Marc Jayson Cayabyab - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Manila Mayor Isko Moreno yesterday denied he is anti-vendor, saying he is only against the prevalence of so-called “organizers” extorting money from vendors so they could sell their wares in the streets.

Moreno said he only wanted to reclaim the walkways for pedestrians, citing the crowded Plaza Miranda where vendors spill over into  Quezon Boulevard in front of the Quiapo Church.

“I am not anti-vendor. You can tag me as anti-organizers, who are no different from criminals who extort the poor,” he said.

On Monday, Moreno presented to media two alleged collectors of payoffs from vendors in Divisoria.

“It’s difficult to accept real talk. It pains the ears. We’re just trying to put things in order. You can tag me the way you want to, but the truth cannot be denied,” he said.

Moreno inspected yesterday the slaughterhouse in Vitas, Tondo.

He vowed to build a modern two-story slaughterhouse in the next six months.

Iconic bookstore shutdown

The owner of the iconic “underground” bookshop in the Lagusnilad underpass lamented the mayor’s move to clear vendors despite their contribution to Manila’s culture.

For the first time in a decade, Books from Underground closed shop on Monday following Moreno’s clearing operations, owner AJ Laberinto told The STAR.

Books from Underground gained a cult following among book readers for its cheap prices and rare finds.

While he understood Moreno’s intentions of clearing the city of road obstructions, Laberinto said vendors felt like the city government had no plans for them to be relocated.

Laberinto uploads photos of all his books on the store’s Facebook page.

“In my 10 years of stay there, I am proud to say that readers have supported us. I met a lot of people in that underpass, the cream of the crop of Manila’s universities. In a way, we contributed indirectly to a reading culture. Without the store, it would create a void,” he said.

Book designer Karl Castro, a customer of the bookstore, was saddened by the loss of a “jewel” in Manila’s reading hub, calling out the city government for pitting commuters against vendors.

“The underpass is for the taumbayan. The mayor declares as if vendors and their customers are not part of the taumbayan, as if these informal economies are not part of the pulse and character of Manila,” Castro said on Facebook.


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