A nat’l road is beyond the commerce of man
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Freeman) - December 22, 2014 - 12:00am

It is the week of Christmas and as usual, Straight from the Sky doesn’t do interviews for this week and instead, we come up with our Christmas Special Presentation and somehow I was told that Cebu has a new singing sensation whose voice has been shown on YouTube and gathered two million hits. If you’ve got this instant popularity…there must be something in your voice that people from all over the Internet Highway love to hear.

This young lad comes from deep down south in Santander who goes by the name of Roland Abante and is now popularly known as “Bunot.” So we asked him to come to our MyTV studios to do a few songs with us, plus our famous Christmas song “Kasadya ning Taknaa.” So presenting to you… Bunot! So watch this special presentation on SkyCable’s channel 61 at 8:00 tonight and on Wednesday and Saturday and at 9:00 tonight on MyTV’s channel 30 and replays at 7:00AM and 9:00PM on Wednesday and Friday. A Merry Christmas to you from Straight from the Sky, SkyCable and MyTV Channel.

***

Finally the night market along Colon St. has been officially declared illegal by the Department of Public Works & Highways. What took them too long? DPWH District Engineer Fernando Cruz says that the night market violates Republic Act. No. 917 otherwise known as the Philippine Highway Act of 1953. Hmmm so what will the DPWH do about this?

When then Vice-Mayor Michael Rama started the night market, I already knew that this was illegal and that the City of Cebu stood on that other law on Section 458 of Republic Act. No.7160 of the Local Government Code of 1991 that states that the city can regulate the use of streets, avenues alleys, sidewalk, bridges, parks, and other public places including the construction, improvement, repair and maintenance of the same. If you read this section carefully, it only says “Regulate” and not close the road.

In short, the DPWH is correct in saying that the night market is illegal because it falls on a national road, which is beyond the commerce of man. I fully understand why Mayor Rama wants a night market — in order to let the poor have some kind of business along that street. But then, not even Mayor Rama has assigned a committee to check whether those merchants taking advantage of the benevolence of our city officials come from the poor themselves? Mind you, this can be a source of corruption whether the man in charge of this night market could choose freely whom he would allow to sell on our streets. But that’s another story!

Not only that. Most of the products that are being sold in the night market compete with the products being sold in the stores along Colon St. These are the merchants that pay taxes to the city of Cebu yet during the annual night market events, they end up losing money because they just cannot compete with stores that sell the same products that do not pay rent at all. So is the City of Cebu being fair on this issue? I think not!

So now where do we go from here? If DPWH is correct and I believe that it is, why isn’t it stopping this illegal night market? What we have here are two government agencies having a law that tells them that they are both correct. But in my book, the overpowering principle to use is that, the road is beyond the commerce of man! This is why it is illegal for sidewalk vendors to sell their wares on the sidewalks and it is the job of the City of Cebu to “Regulate” them. This includes pay parking on our streets.

Mayor Mike Rama knows that I too share his spirit to help the poor. However, the night market shouldn’t be done on busy Colon St. for the simple reason that they are competing with stores that pay their taxes to the City of Cebu. Secondly, the road shouldn’t be closed to traffic as the City of Cebu is mandated to regulate traffic. I have already suggested long ago that the night market should be transferred to that part of Colon St. near the corner of Colon St. and Mabini St. where they do not compete with the other stores. Then you would have a night market that is fair and allows everyone to enjoy the Christmas spirit and not only a selected few who pretend to be poor!

In the meantime, it is up to DPWH to do what it is mandated to do — file the necessary case against the City of Cebu for holding the night market in Colon St. I studied law at the University of San Carlos law school up to 3rd year but stopped because of the death of my father. But I will never forget one major basic lesson that we were taught in Law School, it is in Latin that goes, Dura Lex Sed Lex! The law maybe harsh, but it is the law!

I still believe that we are a nation of laws and not of men…and therefore we must follow the law no matter how harsh it maybe. Doing otherwise would mean stooping down to lawlessness. Frankly speaking, this issue is a clash between Imperial Manila vs. Cebu. But then no one from our political leaders dared to break away from the clutches of Imperial Manila. No one!

vsbobita@mozcom.com.

CEBU CITY CITY OF CEBU COLON ST. IMPERIAL MANILA LAW MARKET MAYOR RAMA NIGHT REPUBLIC ACT
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