Mayor to Sinulog organizers: Practice freedom of enterprise

Jerra Mae Librea

ANYONE can sell this Sinulog provided Cebu City Hall guidelines are followed.

Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella gave the assurance following a controversy arising from the sponsorship agreement entered into by the Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) with Manila-based San Miguel Food and Beverage Inc. (SMFBI) on the selling of hotdogs, tocinos, nuggets and corned beef exclusively by SMFBI’s Purefoods-Hormel brand.

“The City is not bound by that exclusivity contract,” Labella announced, adding that he would not have agreed to the P3 million exclusive contract between SFI and SMFBI if he had known about it beforehand.

According to the mayor, as long as City Hall requirements are complied with by vendors, SFI cannot confiscate their goods as the latter has not been granted the power to confiscate.

“What will happen if others will sell? Will they confiscate it? They don’t have that confiscatory power,” the mayor said.

“The SFI should practice freedom of enterprise where everyone can sell and promote their products,” Labella added.

Earlier, Virginia Food Inc. (VFI), a Cebu-based food manufacturing company and a long-time sponsor of the Sinulog, questioned SFI for awarding exclusive sponsorship to SMFBI.

In the agreement, SFI granted a competition lockout to SMFBI which means only the latter can sell and display their products in three major areas of the Sinulog namely: the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC), Fuente Osmeña Circle and Plaza Independencia.

In a letter to the mayor, VFI president Felix Tiukinhoy Jr. appealed to allow homegrown food manufacturers to participate in the celebration by lifting the exclusivity arrangement.

In another letter addressed to SFI executive director Elmer “Jojo” Labella, the mayor’s younger brother, Tiukinhoy also expressed concern over the inclusion of Purefoods hotdogs and tocino, both pork-based products, in the sponsorship package even as these are covered by the entry ban on pork from Luzon imposed by the Cebu City and provincial governments.

However, while he may disagree with the terms of the contract, the mayor who is also chairman of the Sinulog Governing Board (SGB) refused to intervene, saying that the deal involved private entities and is not imbued with public matter unlike the exclusivity contract entered into by SFI and MyTV Channel 30 which he cancelled after it drew flak from the public for limiting video coverage at CCSC to the cable station.

The mayor, instead, advised the SFI to avoid getting into exclusive agreements and sponsorships to avoid conflicts such as the current issues.

Pork ban

On the matter of allowing the entry of San Miguel Foods’ pork products from Luzon, the mayor said he will allow their entry as long as guidelines set by the City Government are followed.

Among other documents, SMFBI must secure a Veterinary Health Certificate, a shipping permit and a livestock handler’s permit required by Labella’s executive order covering African swine fever measures issued last September 2019.

Meanwhile, people who plan to sell during Sinulog will only have to comply with the following requirements: an accomplished application form from the City Market Office, two 2 x 2 photos, a valid ID and a special permit that must be paid at the City Treasurer’s Office.

Fees depend on the size of the area to be occupied by the seller and the products to be sold.

Selling liquor within a 100-meter radius of the Sinulog route and the selling of lewd products are prohibited.

Registered sellers can start selling on Saturday, January 18, 2020.

Mayor Labella directed Cebu City Police Office officer-in-charge Police Col. Engelbert Soriano to confiscate products which violate the law.

Sinulog sponsorships

Meanwhile, SFI’s Labella said the foundation has no hold on the sponsorship and marketing agreements as these were all assigned to Nocturnal Creative Technologies (NTC), the marketing arm hired by both SGB and SFI to handle this year’s Sinulog festival.

SGB communications officer Angela Emphasis previously said NTC was instructed to surpass last year’s income by 12 percent.

The SFI reportedly earned P35 million in the 2019 Sinulog.

Elmer denied SFI pressured the marketing group to reach the target amount.

He also assured the foundation is not overspending its funds nor is it committing anomalies.

As of Wednesday, January 15, SFI has earned more than P4.4 million from stall rentals along Osmeña Blvd., Fuente Circle and Plaza Independencia.

SFI finance officer Mae Beverly Colao told SunStar Cebu that of the 122 stalls that they opened for rent, 107 have been rented out to vendors.

The area along Osmeña Blvd. registered the highest income with P2.36 million for 59 stalls being rented out of 62.

Where souvenir items are being displayed, stall rental in that area costs P40,000 for two months from December 15, 2019 to February 15, 2020.

On the other hand, Fuente Osmeña has, so far, earned for SFI P1.5 million with 29 stalls out of 30 being rented by food concessionaires.

Each stall which costs P40,000 to rent from Jan. 2 to Jan. 20 is shared by two renters.

In Plaza Independencia, SFI reports an income of P570,000 for now with 19 stalls being rented out of 30. Each stall costs P30,000 for 10 days from Jan. 10 to Jan. 20.

Elmer said cops will be guarding these areas to keep peace and order.

He said registered sellers can also raise their concerns with policemen regarding vendors who sell beside them without the proper permits. (JJL, USJ-R Journalism Intern Mae Fhel Gom-os)