MANILA, Philippines?Malabon public market vendors have haled city Mayor Canuto Oreta to court in a bid to stop the city government from evicting some 2,000 market vendors to give way to the rehabilitation of the old public market.
The Malabon Central Market Development Cooperative (MCMDC) has filed a complaint at the Malabon Regional Trial Court (RTC) against Oreta for alleged irregularities in the city government?s transfer of public market management to private firms.
But the Malabon RTC immediately turned down the cooperative?s petition for a temporary restraining order on the eviction of the vendors, saying the issue was ?moot and academic.?
In a resolution on Thursday, the court took note of the commitment made by Malabon city lawyer Roberto S. Lim and city building official Edgar Yanga during a hearing not to evict stallholders on the same day.
?It appears, in view of these circumstances, the restraining order is no longer necessary to protect whatever right of the plaintiff-cooperative in the market, pending the hearing of the main case,? said the court.
MCMDC acting chairman Francisco C. Lopez told the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Thursday that they were forced to seek court intervention when the city government in cooperation with the new market managers?the joint venture of Nazil Trading Inc. and Prestonburg Development Corporation?asked the stall owners to vacate the market by Thursday so they could conduct clearing operations to prepare for construction works in the area.
The group lamented that they were informed only last November 10 of the move and were thus left with only 10 days to vacate the premises.
?We were surprised and we panicked so we asked our legal counsel for advise,? said Lopez.
In the case against Oreta, the MCMDC has sought the nullification of Malabon?s new contract with the Nazil-Prestonburg consortium, claiming that it was an anomalous agreement.
?There is clear, strong, and convincing evidence that the subject bidding and the agreement with the consortium Nazil-Prestonburg is anomalous, spurious and has no basis in fact and in law,? MCMDC said in its complaint.
The cooperative claimed that Mayor Oreta did not comply with the requirements for a proper and lawful bidding when it awarded the contract to Nazil-Prestonburg.
?What we are questioning is the fact that no public hearing was conducted. We also did not receive any notice regarding a public bidding, if they ever conducted one,? Lopez said.
As former managers of the public market, the cooperative, according to the Cooperative Code of the Philippines, has a preferential right to lease and manage the public market.