SOON enough, barangays around the country will have no choice but to clear roads in their jurisdictions of obstructions.
Once the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) comes up with guidelines for the implementation of its directive, the barangays will have 75 days to do it.
Village chiefs who refuse to comply with the order risk facing complaints of grave misconduct and gross negligence before the Office of the Ombudsman, pursuant to the Local Government Code and other existing laws and policies.
Last year, the agency ordered towns and cities to get rid of anything that and anyone who impeded vehicle and foot traffic after President Rodrigo Duterte, during his State of the Nation Address in July, made it clear that he wanted to impose order on streets and sidewalks nationwide.
Following the DILG’s assessment, it sued 10 local chief executives, including the mayor of the southwestern town of Ginatilan, Cebu, before the anti-graft office for failing to clear their roads.
In Cebu City, Mayor Edgardo Labella has been going “two steps forward, one step backward” in his compliance of the mandate. He couldn’t go against the President, but he also could not alienate the thousands of vendors who would be affected by the order.
He had made it clear that vendors would not be dislocated and they would have their own place to sell their merchandise. So those who were forced to evacuate their spots along Osmena Blvd. and Colon St. were relocated to the Tabo sa Banay on P. Gullas St. in the downtown area. The mayor had said he would not uproot vendors unless the City had found a relocation for them.
During a gathering of sidewalk vendors last November, Labella announced that he would allow them to return to their original vending places on Saturdays and Sundays only or they could register and participate in the night market that would be held during the weekdays until the end of the Sinulog festivities.
Labella made these exceptions out of the goodness of his heart. Unfortunately, having an iron will is what gets things done.