Freeman Cebu Business

Probe says it’s illegal but…Smartphones selling fast on the sidewalks

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Colon Street, the oldest national road in the Philippines, was once the center of Cebu City’s trading activity where both big and small entrepreneurs come together to sell their goods.

But as the years passed by and much of the city’s shopping and business activities have already shifted to the more modern and diverse commercial districts, the once lively Colon Street slowly faded out.

The Cebu City government, along with the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has initiated programs to revitalize trading in Colon Street, one of which is the Night Market wherein traders occupy the whole stretch of the street selling various products from ready-to-wears, street food, toys, among others.

Slowly, business activities are starting to breathe life to Colon Street again, but the fact remains that the place has also earned the reputation as the area in the city where consumers can buy affordable products but are knock-offs or counterfeits.

Colon Street is likewise known to many as the Quiapo or Divisoria of Cebu City.

Smartphones on  the  sidewalks

Lately, sellers of smartphones are starting to sprout along the sidewalks of Colon, where one can buy a smartphone for as low as P2,500.

A Muslim vendor, who requested anonymity, said the price range of their cellphones is between P2,500 to P5,000 depending on the brand of the unit. He said the customer can always haggle for a lower price.

He added that for a P2,500 unit, it already comes with a complete set of charger, headset, wallet cases and tempered glass screen protector. The product also comes with a one-week warranty wherein a customer can ask for a replacement if the unit has defects or the customer can request for a refund.

The vendor however gave the assurance that their products are not stolen items. He said they sourced it from China and Korea and the only reason why they are selling it cheap as compared to those sold in malls, is because they are not paying taxes for their spot on the sidewalk, or any other forms of tax.

He added that Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama himself allowed them to sell on the sidewalks.

Deemed  Illegal

On the contrary, Raquel Arce, head of the Prevention, Restoration, Order, Beautification, and Enhancement (PROBE) Team, and the City Market Administrator, said although the City Mayor has ordered maximum tolerance in allowing vendors to do business on the sidewalks, it is a different story with the cellphone vendors.

“Ang sidewalks para na sa public. The sidewalk must be free from any kind of obstructions,” Arce said adding that vendors are allowed only if they obey the policy being provided.

But to the case of cell phone vendors, they are not regulated vendors, she said.

“They violated the Anti-Fencing Law. Some of their items are stolen,” she said.

Anti-fencing law stated in Presidential Decree no. 1612 refers to a crime that in many ways accompanies crimes against property. It happens when a person buys, sells, accepts, keeps, conceals, acquires or in any manner disposes of something that he knows or should know the item is stolen. It is also accompanied by the intent to gain from the stolen object.

“They do not have a permit. When you sell cellphones dako na na siyang negosyo. There must be a place for you,” she said.

Thus, the team will confiscate the items.

But when asked why the cellphone vendors are still existing on the sidewalks despite being tagged by the law as illegal, Arce said “kahibaw gud sila nga naay polisiya, kahibaw gud sila nga illegal sila. Pero panginabuhian man, swerte-swerte nalang. Ang madakpan malas ug kon dili, mahalinan sab ug makapamugas pud sila.” — (FREEMAN)

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