Nalzaro: The mayor’s motive

Bobby Nalzaro

IS CEBU City Mayor Edgardo Labella backing off from his policy of clearing the city’s streets and sidewalks of vendors upon the instruction of Malacañang? This, following the announcement of the mayor over the weekend that he “wants to test an arrangement where vendors go back to selling on sidewalks on certain days and time.”

Labella announced before a gathering of sidewalk vendors last week that he would allow them to return to their original vending places during Saturdays and Sundays only, or they could participate in the night market which was set to open on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, and close on Jan. 30, 2020, or during the Christmas holiday and Sinulog activities. The night market will be located along Colon St. It will be open Monday to Friday from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Aside from this, vendors can still continue to display their goods at the relocation site at the Tabo sa Banay. If this arrangement will succeed, Labella said he will present it to Malacañang through the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for a lasting and perhaps a permanent solution to the problem of sidewalk vending. But in the meantime, this will only be a probationary period of two months. They will be allowed to continue selling their merchandise if they do not obstruct roads and streets.

But there are some conditions set by the local chief executive. No big umbrellas will be mounted on the vending sites and folding beds will not be allowed along the sidewalks. The Probe team will demolish and apprehend violators. In the past few months, thousands of sidewalk vendors nationwide have been displaced following the no-nonsense campaign of various local government units (LGUs) following the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte. LGUs were inspected and graded by the DILG, which continues to monitor the situation.

I have said this before and I will say it again, while I am for clearing our streets and sidewalks of ambulant vendors because they obstruct pedestrians from using the sidewalks but I cannot just also allow them to be dropped like “rags.” Affected vendors should be relocated. They are making a decent living but it just so happened that they are in the “wrong place.”

Is Labella backing off because of political pressure or because of humanitarian considerations? Or is he backing off “in the spirit of Christmas?” Political pressure in the sense that the affected sector is continuously lobbying for their return to their original vending places and that Labella is being pressured because he plans to court the votes of this sector when elections come. Or “may pusong mamon” lang talaga si Labella?

Well, knowing Labella, I think he’s doing it for humanitarian reasons. Even if we open his heart, it bleeds for the poor and the underprivileged people. Bisan abrihan pa nang iyang kasing-kasing, ang kalooy og simpatiya sa mga kabus maoy gisinggit niana.

For me, it the best “win-win solution” and the best compromise. “A win-win solution means agreements that are mutually beneficial and satisfying to both parties. With a win-win situation, all parties feel good about the decision and committed to the action plan or what has been agreed.”

I hope the vendors will not also abuse this little consideration by going back to their old habit of obstructing roads and depriving pedestrians of the sidewalk. I’m afraid if you give them an inch, they will demand several meters. I just hope they can police their own ranks.