By Glazyl Y. Masculino
BACOLOD City – The local government here is planning to talk to SM to relay the appeal of Manokan Country vendors to be relocated to a new site, but still within the SM property.
SM initially proposed that the Manokan Country tenants will be accommodated at the terminal hub of the mall for free starting January 2024 for 14 months, and will only pay for their utilities.
However, Councilor Celia Flor, chairperson of the Committee on Markets of the City Council, said that the vendors, during their meeting, told her that they were worried about flooding, and dust from the construction should the initial proposed site be followed.
“Kung mag start na daw construction, ga worry sila sa yab-ok,” she added.
Last month, SM Prime Holdings Inc. and the city government signed a 40-year lease agreement for the redevelopment of the iconic Manokan Country.
Manokan Country, which was established in the 1990s, is a row of restaurants selling grilled foods, especially the famous Bacolod chicken inasal. It is situated at the city-owned property at the Reclamation Area right across SM City Bacolod.
The vendors recently appealed to be relocated to the parking lot at the back of the SM property on the south wing part, according to Flor.
“Mas natawhayan sila kung didto kung mag start na ang construction,” Flor said, adding that she had already informed Mayor Alfredo “Albee” Benitez about it.
Flor said they will have to talk to SM about this matter to sort things out, as she believed that the vendors’ proposed relocation site is viable.
Early this year, SM Prime Holdings presented to Benitez its project proposal to develop the Manokan Country through the public-private-partnership program (PPPP), which is being eyed to operate tentatively by 2025.
Benitez, earlier, said that SM Prime Holdings is committed to investing P4 billion in the implementation of the said project, which will create more jobs in the city.