Isko Moreno is firm: No vendors on Ilaya Street
MANILA, Philippines — For almost 30 years, Elizabeth Sanchez and “Mother,” her former elementary school classmate, had been selling cigarettes and clothes on Ilaya Street in Divisoria to feed their families.
Although both women were already in their 60s, they said they would continue to work as long as their bodies were able.
On Monday, they were among a group of street vendors who went to City Hall to seek a dialogue with Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso who had banned them indefinitely from Ilaya Street.
Domagoso imposed the ban after he was dismayed to see piles of trash scattered all over the area during a surprise inspection on Nov. 11.
But the mayor refused to meet with the displaced vendors, saying he had a full schedule for the day. “The government of Manila gave them a chance [to sell in Divisoria] but what they gave back was filth,” he told reporters during a briefing.
Road being fixed
Domagoso added that the city government was currently rehabilitating Ilaya Street by paving the road and fixing the tangled cable wires dangling from posts, which, according to him, had been used by the vendors as makeshift clotheslines for their goods.
The vendors, however, claimed that the piles of garbage left on the street were mostly from either stall owners at the nearby Tutuban Shopping Center or pedestrians.
They asked Domagoso to let them sell their wares on the sidewalk of Recto Avenue, but he reiterated that the busy thoroughfare was among the “nonnegotiable” areas where vending was prohibited.
“Where will pedestrians pass? In the middle of the street [and] in front of jeepneys and trucks speeding through the road? That is unfair,” he said.
Although the vendors admitted that some of them had violated their agreement with the local government by selling in prohibited areas, they called on Domagoso to understand their plight, saying that he, too, was once poor.
Plea for sympathy
“You know how it feels to be hungry, to have stomach pains because you no longer have anything to eat. You should understand that because you experienced poverty,” one of them said. “We do not blame you, but you should not punish all of us because of the mistake of one person. It’s almost Christmas, have mercy on us.”
When the displaced vendors stressed that they had been at Ilaya Street for decades, Domagoso pointed out that this should have been enough time for them to “become rich,” adding that the real victims were the citizens of Manila.
“They should be thankful because they are being accepted by the people. How are they the victims here?” he said.
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