By: Emme Rose Santiagudo
ILOILO City Mayor Jerry Treñas cannot ignore the pleas of sidewalk vendors to spare them from the road clearing operations of the city government orders of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte.
The mayor on Tuesday gave the vendors five days to vacate the city sidewalks. The vendors asked for a one-week reprieve, but they are still thankful for the mayor’s decision.
Jimmy Dorado president of the Sidewalk Vendors Association of Iloilo City confirmed the information in a phone interview on Tuesday.
“Pagkatapos sang meeting namon, nagsaka kami sa opisina niya (Treñas) and ginhatagan kami kondisyon nga asta lang kami Domingo (Sept 15), pagka-Lunes dapat wala na kami. Gapasalamat kami gid kay mayor kay at least nadugang-dugangan ang deadline,” he said.
Initially, the vendors were only given a week or until Tuesday to vacate the sidewalks areas.
Treñas said the order is in relation to President Duterte’s mandate to all local government units to reclaim public spaces being used for private purposes and to clear all road obstructions in 60 days.
He previously announced that the city government will relocate the affected vendors to a property of Panay Electric Company (PECO) in JM Basa Street in City Proper but as of Tuesday, the areas is still being cleared of vegetation and debris.
Treñas also promised a P5,000 aid to each of the 1,500 vendors who will be affected by the road clearing operations, but Dorado said that they are still waiting for the funds.
The order of the mayor was painful for most of the sidewalk vendors who fully depend on their income from selling on sidewalks.
Prior to his announcement of the five-day extension for the sidewalk vendors, more than 100 sidewalk vendors in the city were called for an emergency meeting on Tuesday morning.
During the meeting, some of the sidewalk vendors broke down and appealed to spare their livelihood from the clearing operations.
Two senior citizens, Margarita Delos Reyes from Veterans Village in City Proper and Eunela Dela Cruz from Timawa in Molo, attended the meeting despite their old age, in the hopes of saving their small stalls from being relocated.
Eighty-five-year-old Dela Cruz told reporters that she is fully dependent on selling cigarettes and candies in the sidewalk in Timawa to support her everyday living.
“Magutuman gid kami kon indi kami kabaligya, wala man kami pangayuan. Ako, isa lang naman ko gapangabuhi kag nahuya man ko ya mangayo. Gapangayo lang kami tani lugar para makabaligya kami,” she lamented.
Meanwhile, Delos Reyes, 77, who has been selling dry goods for more than 50 years in the sidewalks of Aldeguer Street, is also unsure what will happen to them after the deadline.
“Senintimos lang amon makita, makakaon lang kami tama na. Galibog ulo namon kon diin kami ibutang kay te gutok-gutok man to kung magululupod kami,” she said.
Another sidewalk vendor, Rose Jamby, 50, broke down during the meeting and called on the President to help save their livelihood.
“Tulungan mo kami na hindi kami mapahalin sa sidewalk dito sa Iloilo, kailangan naming mabuhay, mabuhay ng marangal. Bigyan niyo kami ng atensyon, hindi puro kayo na lamang mamamayan ang yayaman, ind ina kami ang mahihirap ang naghihirap. Maawa kayo sa amin, nasaan ang puso niyo,” she said emotionally.
Meanwhile, Dorado said they are left with no choice but to relocate their stalls and kiosks to the Cacho property in JM Basa.
“I-adjust-adjust lang namon ang kiosk, ang sapatusan gamay man lang. Tinguhaan gid namon kay te masaylo gid kami sa Lunes,” he said.
Panay Electric Co. (PECO) Administrative Manager Marcelo Cacho said in an interview on Monday that they will have to meet with the vendors and find out the acceptable rent for their 2,700-square-meter property.
He assured that they will heed the vendors’ concerns, especially on the rents.
“We will have to meet with the vendors and find out what is the acceptable rental rate sa ila para indi man mabudlay sa ila, kon pila lang masarangan nila,” he said.
Cacho said around 1,500 square meters of their JM Basa property will be converted into a car park area while the remaining area will be set aside to around 300 vendors.
Each vendor will lease 4 squaremeters of the property.
“First it’s going to be a parking lot so that vehicle owners who have transactions in the downtown area can use that and the second is the surrounding area will be the vendors’ area,” he said.
Cacho said small tents will be provided in the vendors’ area.