“We are not criminals! We are humans and we have the right to livelihood!”
By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
BAGUIO CITY — “We are not criminals! We are humans and we have the right to livelihood!”
These were the words of an ambulant vendor who usually play cat-and-mouse with the personnel of the Public Order and Safety Division (POSD) of the Baguio City government. These POSD men are called “goons” by the vendors as they chase them and confiscate their wares. The vendors complain that they are being treated inhumanely by these men.
Because of such treatment the vendors are experiencing, Secretary-General of the Organisasyon dagiti Nakukurapay nga Umili ti Syudad (Ornus) Daisy Bagni urged for the decriminalization of ambulant vending.
She said that because of lack of employment oppurtunities here in the city, they resort to vending on the streets to feed their families.
Nordis learned that there are at least 2,000 sidewalk and ambulant vendors in the city.
Bagni said that the government, instead of extending its help to the less fortunate, violates their right to livelihood.
Osang Walitan, a 31-year old ambulant vendor, was disgusted with the city government. “Even if we are in a private area or in a room selling our wares, these POSD men still confiscate and grab our wares, with most of us getting physically hurt,” she laments to this writer.
“Kasla kami nakapatay ti tao ti trato da kadakami (They treat us like killers),” she explained in an interview.
Another vendor, Mercy Dumpit, 44, narrated how POSD grabbed their wares even if these were in their bags and not displayed on the pedestrian walk.
She said that to earn a living, they vend at the streets from 7 p.m. onwards. “We need food for our children,” she laments.
The vendors had tried to negotiate with the city government, and as a result, they were given IDs. They are allowed to sell their wares to consumers but are prohibited from laying them down on the streets.
The POSD men, however, disregarded their pleas invoking such agreement.
Nordis learned that the city tax ordinance prohibits vending and is considered criminal under such legislation. But the vendors had contested this as inhuman as they are considered as criminals.
“We urge the city council to repeal this ordinance and consider our situation,” said the vendors, who requested this writer to relay it in an article to the concerned officials. They also urged the mayor to be humane to them as his POSD men treated them inhumanely.
“If vending is prohibited, where then is the government that should extend their help to the less fortunate like us?” Walitan ended. Northern Dispatch Reposted by Bulatlat.com)