So it turns out that Cebu City councilors have not properly read the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) between the Cebu City Government and Megawide Construction Corp. The questions some of them raised during a special session on March 15 only revealed that fact, magnified by that show of surprise when told of certain provisions in the JVA.
The development plan consigns the traditional vendors into a corner while other commercial complexes will also be built around. The vendors’ stalls will be tucked into the market building’s upper floor, still a displacement of some kind as they will no longer be in the usual accessible front line. The infrastructure still allows commerce on ground floor, but not for the traditional vendors.
That, among other things that are equally objectionable for the vendors, are on the table now.
Cebu Market Vendors Multi-Purpose Cooperative (Cemvedco) had raised a number of points in its position paper: 1) Vendors’ associations trading in Carbon must be recognized; 2) No vendors and laborers must be displaced; 3) Vendors must not pay anything beyond daily space rental, entrance and business permits; 4) A fee amount freeze of three years since construction; 5) Unloading area for agricultural products must be in usual location; 6) Affected vendors during construction must be relocated comfortably; 7) Vendor and barangay representatives must sit in oversight committee.
The groundbreaking ceremony was supposed to take place on March 17, but vendors took to the streets before City Hall to express their disagreements. But the juggernaut of a deal rolls and questions about the JVA being raised now could lie splat on the ground. Resolutions by minority councilors seek further clarification on the JVA and the views of the Cultural and Historical Affairs Commission (Chac) on the implications of converting a heritage site.
Megawide and City officials have persistently assured early on that there had been wide consultations with stakeholders in the concept stage of the project. That was the impression they gave the Cebu media for a while now.
Which is why the fact that our lawmakers’ surprised reactions appears now as some sort of big reveal. Aside from the fact that the development project costs billions in funds, its implications on heritage sites and the Cebuano everyman’s market culture will be long-term. How could the very people to whom we entrust public interest have been so disinterested in going through the JVA with grave focus?