Carvajal: Bone of contention

·2 min read

Acting Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama was recently reported to assert that it is not demolition but relocation of vendor stalls that is ongoing in Carbon Public Market.

Obviously, the wordplay cannot be blamed on poor English. But Mike Rama is a politician and his equivocation can arguably be considered political double-talk. He knows one cannot relocate vendors to new stalls without first demolishing their old stalls.

Yet, that is really not the problem. Whatever he calls it, the question is why is it being done when his promised “cure” of the joint venture agreement (JVA) is still ongoing? For that matter, why is the construction of the Sto. Niño Chapel and Park, which is part of the JVA, in full swing? Shouldn’t the implementation of any part of the development package be held in abeyance pending cure of the JVA’s defects?

The answer would appear to lie in a policy that, again for some politically expedient reason, Mayor-on-leave Labella and Acting Mayor Rama seem to hold sacred. It is their avowed policy of not rescinding any contract entered into by past and present administrations.

Knowing the Filipino political animal, I can understand why they would not rescind any contract of past administrations. But why can’t they not rescind contracts they entered into? Any local executive worth his salt ought to rescind any contract that on deeper, more critical analysis is found to be against the public good.

What if the only way to cure a contract is to take out the core provision? For the record the Carbonhanon group is not against the development of Carbon into a clean and sanitary modern market. The group recognizes the need to develop the market into a more orderly modern facility and only disagrees that to do that Carbon has to become a world-class trading hub and mall.

The group, above all, is opposed to the privatization of Carbon because then it will be run for private profit and not for public service to financially challenged entrepreneurs, wage earners, consumers and all sundry folks who cannot sell, buy or work, in short earn a living, in a world-class private mall.

The bone of contention is the privatization of Carbon which is the meat of the JVA of Cebu City and Megawide. Privatization is the core defect that has to be cured; otherwise, it will spell economic disaster for 6,000 or so small and very small vendors that live off Carbon. If City Hall is to be true to its mission of serving its public, it must not privatize Carbon. It may not rescind the JVA, but it has to take out any and all provisions that give Megawide management control of Carbon. And while the JVA is being cured, it is only fair that all demolition or relocation, whatever Mike Rama wants to call it, must be put on hold.

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