C/Supt. Arnulfo Cruz, Chief of Police of Tacloban justified the carrying of firearms of his men. He said, “people in the picket line are from the mountains and so I have to ensure that my men are protected”.
This was vehemently denied by the vendors. Donata Labrento, chairperson of KADAMAY who said that it was just part of the government’s old claim that militants and those fighting for the rights of the poor are NPA rebels.
Fighting for survival
Mr. Salipot claims that the vendors will not be allowed to go back to their previous place because the city has to earn an income, to decongest the traffic, as well as for sanitation purposes. He claims that the small vendors are causing heavy traffic and contributing to the accumulation of garbage. They, he said, had business license and had not constructed their stalls.
A vendor needs at least P6, 000 for a stall and to procure a license, which the vendors claim as too exorbitant considering their economic condition. The committee report of the city council states, “there can be cleanliness in, beautification of and smooth flow of traffic at the Tacloban Supermarket without the unnecessary curtailment of a vendor’s right to self-preservation; without undue deprivation of his or her right to earn a living for the support and sustenance of his or her family”.
The vendors said that they have disciplined their ranks and have tackled the issue of traffic and sanitation. Their only problem is their inability to raise the amount for the stall and license. However, KAGUMA said that the issue is not actually about traffic and sanitation. It said that the reason they were being evicted was because people in the city government wants to put their own people in the place the vendors occupied.
For the vendors, it is now a matter of economic survival. Anne Rosila, a vegetable vendor said, “diri gad unta ak tiapi hin mga rali pero waray ako iba nga kakadtuan para pagdepensa ak panginabuhi. Tikang kami paiwason, an akon mga anak waray na magpaka-eskwela.” (I am not keen in joining a protest but I am left with no option if I have to defend my right to earn a living. Since we were evicted, my children stopped going to school). Rosila has three children who were in elementary, high school and college. She said that most vendors borrow their capital of about P3, 000 from a usurer. Before their eviction they had a daily net income of P500 but now they barely reach a daily income of P100.
The fight continues
They were able to protect their picket line but the vendors knew that it was a temporary victory and that they are in for a long struggle. David Solayao, president of KAGUMA, said that they will be steadfast in their fight until their just demands are met. Meanwhile, they have reconstructed their picket line and candles continue to light their nightly vigil. The vendors are convinced that their hope for a better future depends on their united stand. (Bulatlat.com)