Carvajal: Cebuanos deserve the truth

·3 min read

Market vendors are in desperate straits. Their daily earnings flow from Carbon Market is either down to a trickle or completely dried up due to the forced demolition of their stalls without a suitable relocation site.

Helpless in the face of official intransigence, vendors could only pray. But even that was disrespectfully drowned out with loud music. To add insult to injury, the police are now investigating the priests who led the prayers. They think it was their shields that kept vendors at bay when they should probably credit the priests for channeling the vendors’ anger to a peaceful Eucharistic celebration.

It’s time Mayor Michael “Mike” Rama and the Council are called to account. Cebuanos deserve answers to some troubling questions.

Why privatize Carbon Market when it can be just as easily modernized without privatizing it, without unnecessarily displacing vendors who, to this day, have not been assured of a spot in the new market? Why did the City snub the well-studied and expertly prepared alternative proposal of the vendors?

Why was the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) drafted without consulting the vendors who stand to be most directly impacted by it? Why did the Council approve and endorse the JVA for signing when by their own admission they did not read the document in full much less scrutinize it?

Why did Rama, when he was still vice mayor, admit to defects in the JVA that he insisted must be cured and why, now that he is Mayor, is he ramming the JVA through without the defects being cured to the satisfaction of all stakeholders?

True, he did come up with two, not one, supplementary Memorandum of Agreements (MOA) to cure the defects. But why were the vendors again not consulted in the drafting of the MOA? And why are there two MOAs the details of which the vendors know nothing about?

The vendors have filed a case against the JVA. This case is still to be heard. (There is an ongoing mediation between the lawyers of the vendors and those of City Hall.) At the same time, the vendors filed a petition for a temporary restraining order (TRO). The concerned judge summarily dismissed this but has been excruciatingly slow to resolve the vendors’ motion for reconsideration.

Why can’t the City wait for the court’s decision on the motion for reconsideration of the TRO? More importantly, why can’t the City wait for the resolution of the case the vendors filed against the JVA? Why the unfair rush? What happens if the vendors win their case? Or is it that the Mayor and the Council have already been assured of a favorable court ruling?

Did not Mike Rama and the Council run for office to serve Cebu City’s real citizen-persons? Why are they now catering to the profit needs of a legal non-resident person, Megawide, and not to the basic needs of financially strapped warm-bodies, the market vendors?

Cebuanos deserve the truth. Accountability requires it of Mayor Rama and the Council.

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