Small vendors in Baguio City have been opposing the city’s anti-vending policy, which they claim would deny them their right to earn a living for their families.
BY ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
Posted by Bulatlat
BAGUIO CITY (246 kms. North of Manila) – Maria Mendoza, 51, widow, is a vegetable vendor at the city market here for 25 years now. Naty Corpuz, 49, has been selling vegetables since she was 10. Ana Killip, 45, arrived here from the Mountain Province, travelling a distance of at least 150 kilometers, to try her luck as a fruit vendor since she married in her early 20s.
They came from different places and backgrounds but they now face a common threat: the city’s anti-vending policy, which they said would deny them their right to earn a living for their families.
The sidewalk vendors are now calling on the city council to review its seven-year old anti-vending ordinance, which is incorporated under Tax Ordinance 2000-001, to help them continue selling. It is their only source of livelihood.
Human rights advocates claim that the Tax Ordinance is a violation of the people’s right to a livelihood as it contravenes the policies contained in international instruments and in the 1987 Constitution, which mandates that the state shall “free the people from poverty through policies that promote full employment, a rising standard of living, and an improved quality of life for all.”
The city adopted on December 18, 2000 Tax Ordinance No. 2000-001 (which became effective on January 1, 2001) prohibiting vending particularly at the central business district in Baguio city. It incorporated all past ordinances becoming a comprehensive ordinance that prohibits sidewalk vending in the city.
Section 143 of the said ordinance prohibits any person from selling merchandise in places where pedestrians pass or in designated passageways or alleys. It also prohibits selling in any place outside of the market’s premises of merchandise intended for sale in the market.
Section 178 imposes a penalty for violation of the ordinance: a fine of not less than P 1,000 ($21.18 at an exchange rate of $=P47.20) but not more than P 5,000 ($105.93) or imprisonment of not less than one month but not more than six months, or both.
The ordinance also provides for a set of rules and regulations governing the administration, appraisal, assessment, levy and collection of local taxes pursuant to the Local Government Code of 1991, according to the Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project (PHRRP) citing an interview with Greg Deligero, chief of the Public and Order Safety Division (POSD).
The PHRRP citing data from Deligero said that the city has about 3,000 sidewalk vendors during the off-peak season, mostly women and residents of the city. Of this number, 1,500 are found in the CBD alone.
But the number of sidewalk vendors swells to a maximum of 7,000 during peak season such as the Panagbenga or flower festival every February due to the influx of vendors from nearby lowland provinces of La Union and Pangasinan.
Sidewalk vendors are classified into two: those paying and not paying the kurtais, a regulation fee imposed by the City Treasurer’s Office that ranges from five to ten pesos (less than a dollar).
The kurtais-paying vendors are considered registered and are designated areas where they can sell their wares.
Non-paying vendors meanwhile are not considered registered and occupy sidewalks and roads because they do not have designated areas to sell.
Deligero said the ordinance has even been relaxed in the last years for humanitarian reasons as the city government allowed vendors to sell their wares in the days leading to Christmas and New Year.
Vendors criticized the city government when the Mayor, through the POSD, prohibited vendors from selling on December 30, 2008, when there were talks that Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo might visit the market. The visit did not push through and vendors did not earn any income for that day.
In November last year, Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr. signed Administrative Order 169 creating a committee to identify vacant areas to accommodate registered vendors.
Relocation for registered vendors
“This time it would be different. Much as we are giving chances for vendors who register to legitimize their business, the Implementing Rules and Regulations provides that only relocated vendors with business permits may be allowed to sell,” Bautista said.
AO 169 is based on Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Memorandum Circular No. 2001-135 which compels local governments to identify and designate vacant areas for vending by registered vendors only.
Councilor Elaine Sembrano, member of the committee, said it has not conducted a meeting yet on the issue.
While supportive of the Tax Ordinance, Sembrano believes that the city government must immediately address the need to look for areas for vendors. The committee however does not have enough time to discuss it in 2008, she admitted. Northern Dispatch/ Posted by Bulatlat.com