Estrada scolds ‘antireform’ Quinta vendors
Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada on Monday scolded vendors opposed to the “modernization” of the Quinta public market, accusing them of opposing “reforms.”
Estrada dropped by the area after a demolition squad from the City Engineering Office arrived at the market in Quiapo, ready to tear it down in preparation for its renovation by Marketlife Management and Leasing Corp. under a joint venture agreement with the Manila City Hall.
Vendors, however, tried to stop them by barricading entrances although their efforts proved futile.
As the demolition was underway around 9 a.m., Estrada arrived at the market and held an impromptu dialogue with the protesting vendors. He listened to their views but also scored them for opposing “reforms.”
“We are building a better market here. Don’t you want development?” he told the vendors. “In the meantime, we have to make do with makeshift tents here,” he said, referring to the temporary stalls set up nearby for them.
For his part, Quinta market master Joey Delada said they expected the vendors to protest against the project.
“We cannot avoid resistance to such projects. In this case, vendors who are delinquent in paying their fees are the ones protesting,” he said.
Delada noted that the “protesters,” who make up only a small portion of the over 270 vendors, fear that their unpaid rental dues would be revealed, leading to their being kicked out of the market with the completion of the renovation.
“But the fact is, all the registered stall holders here will perfectly fit in the new market,” he said.
Delada also denied claims that the market would be privatized and that the city government would lose control over its management.
“We will still manage the market,” he said, noting that the city government, market vendors and Marketlife would share seats in the committee in charge of the market.
However, some vendors still harbored doubts despite the city government’s assurances, with William Magno, manager of the Quinta Market Cooperative, particularly questioning Marketlife’s intentions to manage the public market.
“We just wish we could talk to Marketlife. No one from Marketlife has ever spoken to us about the renovation,” he said.
Magno also questioned the structure of the management committee for the market, which he said had no spot for the vendors despite assurances from the city government.
“The board will have five members: three from the developer (Marketlife) and two from City Hall. How can they (City Hall) say they are in control when a majority of the seats are with the developer? Effectively, it’s (Marketlife) who has a say in the management [of the market],” he said.
Another vendor, 67-year-old Julieta Navarro, said that she and many others failed to sell anything on Monday because the demolition team came unannounced. She added that they were left with no choice but to clear their stalls.
Navarro, who has been at the market for 50 years, said that she was worried that the rental fee would go up once the market was renovated. During Estrada’s term, the daily market fee was raised to P50 from the previous P20.
Under an agreement with the city government, Marketlife will modernize the market for P900 million and operate it for 25 years before returning its management to city hall.–With Mariejo Ramos and Andronico M. del Rosario
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