By: Emme Rose Santiagudo
Aside from structural problems, the biggest public market in Iloilo City is also facing decade-old system that breeds corruption.
This was the observation of Mayor Jose Espinosa III after he turned over 50 new tables to the fish section of the Iloilo Terminal Market on Wednesday.
Espinosa said the 50 tables, each labeled with libre or free, is only a part of the 79 tables that he intends to turn over to the market.
Gusto ko ya magbulig kay gareklamo mga gabaligya di. Subong ginpaislan ko ang mga lamesa di kag ginpabutangan ko libre kay wala dapat sila may ginabaydan di, arkabala lang, he said.
Espinosa earlier said he received complaints from some vendors at the Terminal Market on the alleged extortion perpetrated by some personalities who rent out tables, light bulbs, and plastic canvas used as table cover for fish products.
The mayor identified Punong Barangay Alain Rey Depatillo of Rizal Pala-Pala I and Noel Soliman of Rizal Pala-Pala II as the people behind the alleged extortion rackets at the Terminal Market.
Both Depatillo and Soliman denied the allegations.
Aside from the alleged extortion rackets, Espinosa also spotted irregularities in the system at the Terminal Market, particularly the electrical connections of vendors.
We observed may mga flying connections, indi na pwede. Ngaa may nagapangkolekta suga sa sulod sang merkado, supposed to be iya ni sang siyudad, kada isa may sub-meter, ambot ngaa naginano na di, he lamented.
Espinosa said it is also clear that there are main forces behind the extortion rackets and electrical connection irregularities since vendors refuse to identify the persons involved.
Klaro nga may ara ga-uyat sini and indi iya sang city. Amo na garing may kakulba sa mga vendors, he said.
Meanwhile, Emmanuel Panongon, president of the Fish Vendors Association, admitted that extortion rackets have long plagued the Terminal Market.
Dako ang sukot. Ang lamesa gasukot sila mga P30-50 kag ang isa ka receptacle sang suga P15. Kis-a sa isa ka lamesa makagamit ka 4-6 ka suga, te dugang sa amon balayran kag problema, Panongon said.
But when asked about the persons behind the extortion rackets, Panongon refused to answer.
Usually gasukot sila mga 5 to 6 am, pero indi ko ka identify sa ila kay indi ko man bi makilala ang mga gabaligya. Kag ako ulihi ko man lang natukiban nga dako gali ang sukot, he said.
Every day, Panongon said they are spending not less than P200-P300 for the tables, light bulbs, table covers, weighing scales, and laborers.
The payments affect their daily income.
Ang libre nga lamesa dako gid ang bulig nga ginhatag sa miyembro, kapin pa sa mga negosyante, Panongon said.
Meanwhile, Espinosa said he will create a task force which will focus on various irregularities at the Iloilo Terminal Market to help the vendors.
He also expressed his intent to rehabilitate the structural and systemic problems at the market phase by phase.
As to the extortion claims, Espinosa said he is still waiting for reports from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) after he sent a letter asking for an investigation on the alleged extortion.
Ako ginabulabog ko subong to show determination. Indi mo ni madali-dali, ginapakita ko lang kung determinado ka and may political will, pwede ta ni makay-o, he said.