Night Market Vendors ask for retention

BAGUIO CITY – Night market vendors numbering 1,067 on Wednesday opposed a proposal to put a stop to the city’s night market project saying it will strip them and their families of their only means of livelihood.

In a meeting called upon by Coun. Leandro Yangot Jr., council committee on market, commerce and livelihood chair, the vendors promised to abide by all the rules and comply with all the obligations to keep their slots at the night market.

Yangot said the meeting was prompted by the petition submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte by Joseph Edison Claridades calling for the suspension of the operation of the night market in the City.

He said the matter was again brought up by Monin Navarro, a member of the Baguio Heritage Foundation Inc. during last Monday’s city council session.

“We also request that the Night Market at Harrison Road to be temporarily suspended and to be reviewed and audited by an independent committee. We need to review its purpose, guidelines and how its services affect the surrounding businesses inside the CBD proximity under the CLUP of 2013-2023,” Claridades said in his statement opposing the Burnham Park parking project directed to the President which he read in a public hearing held last April 11.

The vendors said they are hurt that people would consider removing their source of income that enables them to provide for their families.

Some pushed for their transfer to a better location at the road beside Melvin Jones as planned by the City Government.

During the meeting, city market superintendent Fernando Ragma said the night market contributed close to P19 million to the City’s coffers while from January to June this year, close to P9 million was realized or a monthly revenue of P1.5 million.

However, he pointed out problems in the operation like business and personal conflicts among the slot holders, improper use of identification cards and sanitation issues.

City Health Officer Dr. Rowena Galpo affirmed blatant violations of cleanliness rules in the area particularly the prohibition of cooking or selling of food that requires that use of utensils.

She said findings of their weekly monitoring showed the presence of cooking, reheating and selling activities, food without proper storage or covers, food handlers without protective gears, violations of plastic ordinance, lack of garbage receptacles and indiscriminate throwing of dirty water at the plant boxes and other prohibited sites.

Officer-in-charge City Engineer Edgar Olpindo said vendors were observed to be setting up earlier than the prescribed time of 9 p.m.

City legal office representative May Buliyat reminded the vendors that their area of operation is “beyond the commerce of man” and the City was just allowing it for humanitarian consideration so cooperation and compliance with the law is necessary.

City Police Director Ramil Saculles said the night market has effects on the City’s traffic situation and security concerns being a ripe target for crimes including terroristic attacks but they will continue to provide maximum security service nightly as warranted.

The vendors also aired their concerns like alleged unfair treatment by the inspectors and others.

At the close of the meeting, they were asked to submit their consolidated position to the council committee on market for its consideration.

The night market began in the City in 2010 to help itinerant vendors displaced when the City banned selling at the sidewalks and other unauthorized places and curb illegal vending in the City.

By: Aileen P. Refuerzo

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