Carbon market vendors fear losses as rent rises and stalls shrink

·6 min read

VENDORS and stall owners in the Carbon Public Market fear a possible loss of revenue as they transfer to the interim market amid the ongoing demolition operations by the Cebu City Government.

In an interview with SunStar Cebu Tuesday, July 19, 2022, Cebu Market Vendors Multipurpose Cooperative president Erwin Goc-ong said their profits will shrink as they move to the interim market.

Goc-ong said more than 5,000 stall owners and sidewalk vendors will be affected by the clearing operations in Freedom Park, Warwick Barracks, and Modules 2 and 3 of the market complex.

The market vendors pleaded with Mayor Michael Rama to halt the demolition and call for a meeting with the stakeholders to shed light on the issue.

“Stop the demolition. Unya mangita ta og paagi nga magmeeting tanan nga adunay (Then let’s find a way for all to meet with) transparency,” said Goc-ong.

Goc-ong said the mayor should not rush in his aspiration to transform Cebu City into a Singapore-like city and should focus on solving other issues such as flooding and employment.

“Ako, saludo ko ni (I admire) Mike, but this time I beg to disagree... He is being misinformed sa mga tao nga nagpalibot niya (by the people surrounding him). I would like to remind Mayor Mike, the end does not justify the means,” he added.

According to Goc-ong, all the vendors support the modernization plan, but they are not in favor of the privatization of the public market.

Goc-ong said there are already vendors in the market who are considering other livelihood options as they anticipate incurring losses in their new area in the interim market.

Higher rent, smaller space

Though no exact figures were given to them, Goc-ong said the privatization would lead to an increase in their stall rental.

The rent increase will also result in additional prices for their products since the cost of operating a business will now be higher, he added.

Goc-ong also said not all of the affected vendors in the old market will have a stall or area in the interim market.

“Dili tanan nga gipangdemolish ang mahatagan. Admitted man na nila nga dili tanan mahatagan,” said Goc-ong.

In Unit Two of the market alone, Goc-ong said 20 vendors will not receive a slot in the interim market.

And yet, Goc-ong said, the city government still urged the vendors to secure a business permit and assured the displaced vendors that they would be given an area to sell their products.

Another concern of the vendors about the interim market is the smaller area for the stalls.

In the interim market, the space for a single stall is only four square meters (sqm), while the space for their stalls in their original locations could reach up to 10 sqm, said Goc-ong.

Despite this, many vendors have already transferred to the interim market. But Goc-ong said the vendors are doing this out of fear and desperation since they can no longer do anything about the matter.

Approved deal

In a separate interview, Rama said the clearing operation must push through since the supplemental memorandum of agreement for the joint-venture agreement has already been approved by the city council.

There were enough meetings and coordination conducted for the project, thus the modernization of the Carbon Market should no longer be delayed as requested by Goc-ong, said Rama.

The delay in the project implementation will only give future investors a bad impression of the city, he added.

Rama previously mentioned that the clearing operations will also pave the way for the restoration and recovery of the sidewalks in the Carbon-Ermita corridor.

However, Goc-ong said some ambulant or sidewalk vendors affected by the clearing operations were still being positioned by the government along the roads.

“Ang kadtong naa sa daplin kaayo nga street vendors nga nipilit sa Freedom Park, dili balhinon sa interim market. Anha ra pud sila sa karsada... So obstruction gihapon. Mas mosamot na hinuon ka huot ang dalan pa ingon sulod sa Carbon,” said Goc-ong.

(The street vendors on the very edge along Freedom Park won’t be transferred to the interim market. They’ll stay on the street... So there’s still an obstruction. It will only constrict further the street going to Carbon.)

Mass disrupted

Also on Tuesday, an official of the Archdiocese of Cebu condemned local police and personnel of the Cebu City Government for disrupting a mass conducted at the Carbon Public Market on Monday, July 18, in solidarity with vendors whose stalls were facing demolition.

In a statement, Fr. Nazario Ace Vocales, a vicar for the Archdiocese’s Social Advocacies Arm, condemned the act of local police and demolition personnel in intentionally “playing loud music” to disrupt the Holy Mass.

“We denounce the gross disrespect of this religious activity and urge the Cebu City Government to take action against the personnel involved,” Vocales said.

“It is not enough for them that they are implementing an insensitive and unreasonable directive in demolishing the stalls of our Carbon market vendors who have been burdened by the hardships of the pandemic and of the recent economic dislocations we are all experiencing. They take delight in the suffering of their fellow Cebuanos as they endure the pain and suffering of losing the humble stalls which is the source of the daily livelihood which they and their families rely on,” he added.

Vocales stated his support for the dislocated vendors and urged the Cebu City Government and Megawide Construction Corp., the main proponent of the market’s modernization, to implement development without depriving the vendors of their livelihood.

Cebu city police vehemently denied that Cebu City Hall staff disrupted the mass held by Carbon vendors opposing the clearing operation on Monday.

Police Lt. Col. Wilbert Parilla, deputy city director for administration of the Cebu City Police Office, said that even before the mass attendees arrived, a sound system in the area was already playing music and this was not intended to disrupt the priest’s mass.

Parilla explained that the presence of the police in Carbon was intended to forestall trouble and injury to those conducting the clearing operations as well as to those affected by the clearing.

He said police would not drive away vendors who resist relocation since their intent is just to keep the peace.

Tensions arose again at Freedom Park on Tuesday morning, July 19, during the continuing clearing operations of the city government.

The demolition of stalls situated outside Carbon Market’s Unit 2 began on Friday, July 15.

SunStar Cebu reported that around 80 vendors, mostly members of the Cebu Market Vendors Development Cooperative, lost their stalls during the clearing operations on Friday. (JKV, AYB)

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting