Carvajal: Makalilisang

A fellow columnist in SunStar recently ranted against “the poor or those pretending to be” who oppose Carbon market’s “modernization.” I wish he had studied the Who, What, and Why of the issue more thoroughly.

Like Who are those vendors that he claims “play the role of the downtrodden” but “can afford the luxuries of life...” and whom “we needn’t take pity on?”

In their own words: “Pwerteng daghana dinha nga namuhonan lamang og P500-P1,000 matag adlaw sama sa manindahay og asin, ginamos, mga lamas ug inad-ad nga sahog sa pagkaon nga tag singko pesos ang tapok. Daghan pud tighakot og tubig-dagat para ihumol sa isda, mga basurero nga sinuholan sa mga tindera sa paglabay sa ilang basura, mga gagmayng manginginhas ug mangingisda nga anha motumod sa Carbon sa ilang kuha, mga bata nga maglibot og plastic, trapo nga tag piso, kandila, silhig tukog ug uban pa aron makatabang sa ilang ginikanan nga makapalit og bugas, mga helper sa mga tindahan nga nangyawat makapadala og P500-P1,000 ang semana sa ilang pamilya nga naas bukid...”

What are they against? They are not against modernizing Carbon. In fact, they have a less costly alternative proposal for this. They are only against privatizing Carbon.

But Why? They were never consulted, as is their right, in the crafting of this joint venture agreement (JVA) and only later found out about its disadvantageous provisions. Mike Rama, vice mayor then, admitted to these defects in the JVA and in an impassioned speech appealed to the City Council to hold its implementation in abeyance pending the cure of its defects.

The Council agreed and issued a resolution to that effect. The vendors are now simply asking to take part in the JVA’s curing process and for Megawide to abide by the Council’s resolution. But strangely in recent events, Mayor Rama seems helpless in the face of Megawide’s defiance of the Council resolution.

Unlike our columnist, vendors give a hoot about who modernizes Carbon. They need assurance, ungiven so far, that they have a place to earn a living in a future world-class Carbon. Besides becoming squeaky clean, “mogamay ang Carbon, kay Freedom Park and Warwick Barracks na lang ang mahabilin ug himuon mang Mall ug Commercial Hub ang Units 1, 2 and 3.”

Once privatized, rentals will go up, with prices to follow to the detriment of consumers. Mall-like conditions and low prices simply do not go together.

A columnist of another paper was right to opine that the human element must be factored in and a second look at a “perfect deal” might be “prudent.” Which is precisely why concerned citizens stand with the vendors on this issue. He is wrong to judge them as “obstructionists with selfish, myopic, disagreeable, and even feigned concerns.”

No matter, as long as the JVA gets a second look. The vendors are not asking for pity. They are asking for their right to have a say on a deal that, far from “perfect” is, in their own word, makalilisang.