No extension for Manokan Country tenants to vacate

(Photo courtesy of Atty. Caesar Distrito Facebook)

By Glazyl Y. Masculino

BACOLOD CITY—The July 5 deadline will be enforced, stressed Mayor Alfredo “Albee” Benitez, as he maintained that there will be no more extensions for stall owners or tenants of the Manokan Country to vacate the area in Barangay 12 here.

Benitez noted that there has been enough information dissemination for them to understand the city’s plan of improving the iconic Manokan Country, a row of restaurants selling grilled foods, especially the famous Bacolod chicken inasal, established in the 1990s.

“Legally, we have complied with the provisions and they were given 30 days to vacate, and so we will implement it,” he added.

Benitez said that there are legal provisions to determine what the city could do if the vendors resist.

“The City Legal Office (CLO) is very capable and able to enforce our policies and directions,” he added.

Last month, the city issued a 30-day notice to vacate to 26 tenants and also gave them until June 20 to decide to transfer to a temporary space provided by SM Prime Holdings Inc. (SPHI) at the parking area of SM City Bacolod, just across Manokan Country.

However, Benitez recently said that none of these tenants agreed to transfer to the temporary facility provided to them.

“So we are now opening it to others who are interested,” Benitez said, adding that they will formulate and finalize the selection process.

Benitez said that he has been receiving inquiries from groups interested in the availability of spaces. “We would definitely give priority to those who want to avail of the temporary facility,” he added.

“I think for us to be able to have the continuity of tenants at Manokan Country, whoever expresses interest to participate and operate in the temporary facility would also be allowed to operate in the permanent facility,” Benitez said.

Tenants who settle their arrears with the city will also be recommended to avail a space in the new Manokan Country.

The tenants had earlier sent Benitez a letter asking the city to provide them with a place to put up their stalls, citing that the temporary spaces are small. However, Benitez emphasized that they had numerous discussions already, and yet they did not mention it earlier.

Benitez said that Manokan Country is one of the destinations the city wants to preserve. He suggested putting up multiple Manokan Country sites, considering the popularity of chicken inasal.

“We are now enhancing Manokan Country, but of course, we also want to ensure that proper development is in place, and that would not be deterred by anyone,” Benitez said.

SM Prime Holdings Inc. and the city government signed a 40-year lease agreement for the redevelopment of the iconic Manokan Country, situated on city-owned property at the Reclamation Area, in October 2023.

The P4-billion project is tentatively set to operate by next year.


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