Baguio Vendors Fight for Right to Livelihood

Vendors in Baguio City said that while the anti-vending policy of the local government remains in place, the city has yet to identify areas for vendors.

Northern Dispatch
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BAGUIO CITY (246 kms. north of Manila) – Vendors here said that while the anti-vending policy of the local government remains in place, the city has yet to identify areas for vendors.

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.

Aling Maria Mendoza, 51, a widow and a vegetable vendor at the city market said, “Still we do not know our fate if we are among the duly registered vendors or those the city plan to register.” She said politicians promised to address these problems during election time but failed to act on it when elected.

The Public and Order Safety Division (POSD) said that the anti-vending law is meant to clear sidewalks and roads crowded by sidewalk vendors.

Aling Maria said that they organized themselves and have been policing their ranks. “We even help in crime prevention by helping in the arrests of illegal elements like pickpockets,” she added.

Aling Naty Corpuz has also been selling vegetables since she was ten. She has six children in various school levels.

Aling Naty and Aling Maria lament that vendors not registered and not paying kurtais have to play “cat-and-mouse” with the authorities. “When they are not here, we sell our goods but run away in their presence,” added Aling Naty.

Kurtais a regulation fee imposed by the City Treasurer’s Office that ranges from five to ten pesos (less than a dollar).

If their wares are confiscated, sidewalk vendors may recover these after paying a fine. For those selling wagwag (second hand clothing), their fine is P1,000 ($21.10 at the current exchange rate of $1=P47.39) and lower for non-wagwag vendors.

The sidewalk vendors said they need a daily capital of P1,000 to P2,000 ($21 to $42) to earn some P 150 to P200 per day ($3.15 to $4.22) during peak season. Their daily income, however, is lower than the living wage established by government data.

The office of the Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Board (RTWPB) said that a decent living wage for a family of six is P883 ($18.63) per day. The RTWPB breakdown is as follows: P233 ($4.91) for food, P570 ($12) for non-food and 10 percent or $1.85 for other expenses. The basic wage in the region is P 235 ($4.958) per day.

“When our wares are taken, it is a double-loss for us. We lose our income and our capital.” explained Manang Ana Killip, a fruit vendor. Their recourse is to get loan from a Bumbay, an Indian creditor, on a five-six basis or 20 percent interest.

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