Mayor to complainant: Have ‘compassion’

CEBU City Mayor Edgardo Labella said it is in the exercise of its political will “tempered with mercy and compassion” that the City Government is allowing vendors to go back to selling on sidewalks on weekends.

The mayor’s pronouncement is in response to a complaint lodged through the 8888 Citizens’ Complaint Hotline under the Office of the President.

“Although it is the person’s right, I hope the complainant who filed this will also have compassion, especially for vendors who are trying to make a living in the holiday season,” Labella said Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. in Cebuano.

During his State of the Nation Address last July 22, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered local government units (LGUs) to reclaim public roads being used for private purposes in order to ease traffic congestion.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) subsequently gave the LGUs 60 days to clear the roads and reclaim those that are being used for private purposes.

Last Nov. 28, Labella announced before a gathering of sidewalk vendors that he would allow them to return to their original vending places during Saturdays and Sundays only, or they can participate in the night market held Monday to Friday, from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., along a portion of Colon St., Cebu City, from Dec. 1 to Jan. 30, 2020 or during the Christmas season and Sinulog.

Labella said he will face the complaint once he receives a copy which may be sent through the DILG.

He added that he had consulted with lawyer Ian Kenneth Lucero, DILG-Cebu City officer-in-charge, before he decided on the arrangement with the sidewalk vendors.

“We displayed political will when we cleared the vendors, but because of several appeals, including from Vice Mayor Michael Rama, we showed political will tempered with mercy and compassion. That’s why we sought the advice of the city’s DILG (officer), Atty. Lucero, if it would be possible to give vendors a chance. It’s also more of a probation and not a permanent move,” Labella said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

The neophyte mayor said the complaint lodged through the 8888 is the first grievance he received in his first six months in office.

Labella, though, remains unfazed, saying it’s part of the “hazards of the trade.”

He also reiterated that the City Government welcomes the observation of Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III, who had commended efforts to clear the roads on Colon St. and Osmeña Blvd. of obstruction.

Last October, Densing said he was impressed by how Labella managed to transfer the vendors to a “more convenient place where they can earn a decent living.” (PAC of Superbalita Cebu / RTF)