Estrada offers concessions to vendors
Around 500 vendors in Manila who joined Monday’s “market holiday” to protest what they claimed was the privatization of the city’s 17 public markets declared their mass action a success after Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada granted them several concessions.
During a dialogue at city hall, Estrada announced that the Sta. Ana public market and others found to be “in good condition” would no longer be demolished but just undergo rehabilitation.
At the same time, he said that effective immediately, displaced vendors from Quinta market would no longer be charged a daily rental fee of P40 for the use of temporary stalls near the demolished market.
The Quinta public market was the first to be torn down in July under a joint venture agreement (JVA) signed between the Manila City government and a private firm. Under the JVA, Marketlife Management and Leasing Corp. will renovate the market and operate it for 25 years.
In an earlier interview, Edward Serapio—secretary to the mayor and chair of the JVA selection committee—said that scheduled to be demolished next were the public markets in San Andres, Sta. Ana, Trabajo and Sampaloc. The affected vendors, however, accused the city government of plotting to privatize these markets.
Member with voting rights
On Monday, Estrada told the vendors that their representative in the JVA governing body—which decides on important matters affecting the markets such as rental fee increases, dividends and revenues, among others—would now be allowed to vote. The other members include one representative from the private developer and three others from city hall (including the mayor).
Originally, the body was to have just four members—two from the private developer and one each from the city government and vendors’ groups. The vendors’ representative, however, would not be allowed to vote unlike the other members.
At the same time, Estrada denied rumors that the city government would charge vendors goodwill money or a downpayment to ensure a spot in the newly renovated markets.
“Before I sign any agreement, I make sure you will benefit from it,” Estrada assured the protesters.
Olympia Bicharra, president of the Sta. Ana Vendors Association, told the Inquirer that she was hopeful Estrada would make good on his promises.
“The market is the only place where you can buy small quantities (tingi) of vinegar, calamansi, eggs and meat at low prices. If the markets will be privatized, people who want to buy a little meat will not be able to do so,” she said.
More protests if…
“We are amenable to the composition of the governing body. I hope they will include these amendments in the JVA resolution, otherwise [there will be other market holidays],” said Marcos Libres, president of the Save Manila Public Market Alliance.
Those who joined Monday’s protest were vendors from the affected markets although there were also others from Paco and Dagonoy markets—which were not included in the proposed JVA—who also participated.
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