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Estrada agrees not to raise fees at Quinta market, won’t demolish other markets

/ 11:01 PM September 14, 2015

Manila market vendors consider Monday’s “market holiday” a double success after Mayor Joseph Estrada waived the rental fees of relocated Quinta Market vendors and announced that the demolition of Sta. Ana Market and other markets “in good condition” would not push through.

In response to the morning protest dubbed “market holiday” of around 500 vendors in front of the city hall to oppose the local government’s joint venture agreement with private developers, Estrada assured the vendors that the 13-year-old Sta. Ana market would be rehabilitated and not demolished.

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He also assured Quinta vendors displaced last July would no longer pay a minimum P40 rental fee possibly until the construction of Quinta Market. Estrada also said the joint venture agreement deciding body would be composed of two representatives from the private developers, two from the vendors and one from the City Hall.

There will also be no goodwill money required from vendors, and a downpayment fee for them to transfer after the “rehabilitation,” according to Estrada.

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Around 6 a.m. Monday, members of the Save Manila Public Market Alliance or SAMPAL, a newly formed association of Manila public vendors and stall owners opposed to the JVA scheme held a noise barrage and marched from their stalls towards the Manila City Hall holding placards and banners to decry what they deemed a “privatization” scheme of the government.

Their banners and chants were “Erap pahirap!”, “We oppose the JVA,” among others.

Participating markets who closed shop and protested on Monday were the Trabajo, Sampaloc, San Andres, Sta, Ana market and a portion of the Quinta market. Vendors from Paco and Dagonoy market and sidewalk vendors from Rizal Park, Pedro Gil, Padre Faura and Manila bay area—although not included in the proposed JVA—joined the rally.

Under City Ordinance No. 8346 or the Manila Joint Venture Ordinance, several of the city’s 17 public markets will be demolished to pave the way for their rehabilitation under a joint venture or a public-private sector partnership.

First to be “modernized” was Quinta Market, which was torn down in July. Under the JVA signed by the Manila government with Marketlife Management and Leasing Corp. (MMLC), the private firm will renovate the market at a cost of P90 million and operate it for 25 years. The following month, affected vendors sued Estrada for graft and corruption, accusing him of awarding the contract to MMLC without a bidding or public consultations.

Next to be rehabilitated are the markets in Sta. Ana, Trabajo, San Andres and Sampaloc.

“Before I sign into any agreement, I make sure you will benefit from it,” Estrada told the protesters whose facial reactions started changing from antagonistic to joyful.

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“Who said Sta. Ana will be demolished? Only ‘pulpol’ politicians said it will be,” he added.

Eduardo Serrano, secretary to the mayor and chair of the JVA selection committee, said the government would not earn from the JVA as the expenses associated with it would be imposed on surrounding business establishments such as pay parking and fish pond.

There will be a moratorium in rental fees in the first two years that will only increase by 5 to 10 percent in the succeeding years, according to Serrano.

Ram Bautista, spokesperson of Bayan-Manila said Monday’s market holiday was a success but their fight for the total exclusion of all markets from the JVA would continue. “We hope the government would work with cooperatives, instead, and not with private developers in ‘rehabilitating’ the markets,” as the latter would result in higher stall rental and utilities fees or worse, the loss of their livelihood.

They denounce public-private partnership, he added.

Olympia Bicharra, president of the Sta. Ana Vendors Association, was hopeful that Estrada’s pronouncements would come true. She still wishes that the market remains a public market.

“It’s only in the market where you can buy a P5 vinegar, calamansi, two pieces of egg, meat. If the markets will be privatized, people who wanted to taste a little of meat will not be able to do so,” she said.

Councilor Ali Atienza, one of the three councilors who voted against the JVA, criticized the series of contracts Manila government has engaged into recently, including the privatization of Manila Zoo, and the inconvenient relocation sites for the vendors.

Around 50,000 street side vendors and hawkers in Manila will also lose jobs because of the JVA, according to Atienza.

On requests of suspending the demolition of some markets after the yuletide season, Estrada told vendors he would look into that option.

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TAGS: Ali Atienza, Bayan-Manila, City Ordinance No. 8346, demolition, joint venture agreement, Joseph Estrada, Manila, Manila city council, Manila Joint Venture Ordinance, market holiday, Marketlife Management and Leasing Corp., mayor, MMLC, news, Olympia Bicharra, protest, public market vendors, Public-Private Partnership, Quinta Market, Ram Bautista, Rehabilitation, Sampal, Save Manila Public Market Alliance, Sta. Ana Market, Sta. Ana Vendors Association
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