‘WE WON’T GIVE UP’: Vendors still bent on returning to sidewalks

Vendors in Iloilo City will continue to seek permission from City Hall to allow them to return to the sidewalks even just for a few days. (Emme Rose Santiagudo)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

Vendors in downtown Iloilo City will still try to return to the sidewalks and sell their wares to earn money for the holidays.

This was the reaction of Niel Dichupa, president of the Sidewalk Vendors Association of Iloilo City, after the City Council on Thursday shelved their request to be allowed to sell on the sidewalks for the Christmas season.

Councilor Eduardo Peñaredondo said they have no legal basis to allow the request of the sidewalk vendors.

“We have no legal basis because it is not allowable although it is tolerated because of our practice,” he said.

Councilor Jay Treñas said the proposal might also go against the mandate of the national government, particularly the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), to clear sidewalks and roads of obstructions, including vendors.

Kon pasahan naton ordinansa daw ma-counter kita sa DILG mandate of clearing the sidewalks,” he stressed.

Treñas added that the proposal of the vendors to return to the sidewalks, particularly from December 16-31, also lacks specific guidelines and details.

“The proposal is a night market and we see no problem with that but ang aton lang indi pwede kita ka shortcut sang proseso, dapat naton sila konsultahon, dapat i-check if masirado kita dalan and coordinate with other agencies,” he said.

Dichupa said that while they were saddened by the City Council’s decision, they will continue to push for their proposal.

“We are still going to knock on their hearts and indi gid ko mag-surrender sa pagpangayo gihapon sa ila hamili nga baratyagon para sa amon mga miyembro. Tipunon ko pa ang board ko para istoryahan namon ang next move,” he said.

Dichupa said they also plan to forward their appeal to the DILG central office and the Office of the President.

“Directly kami mangayo bulig kay si mayor indi man ka-decide nahangpan man namon ang sitwasyon ni mayor, ma-technical man siya so mangayo kami bulig either sa DILG Central Office or Office of the President,” he said.

Dichupa said some of the children of the sidewalk vendors were forced to stop schooling due to insufficient income in their new designated area.

Hence, the appeal to return to the city sidewalks.

Ang mga estudyante iban naguluntat na kay wala na sila source sang income. Imagine, three months na kami di sa Cacho Property almost zero-zero gid,” he lamented.

The city government ordered vendors in the metro to vacate the sidewalks as part of road clearing operations ordered by the national government.

The vendors were transferred to the 2,700-square-meter property of Panay Electric Company (PECO) on JM Basa Street.

Since the proposal was not completely denied but only noted down, Councilor Treñas said they can conduct a special session to discuss the proposal of the sidewalk vendors once the logistics and guidelines were ironed out.

“We can discuss at the committee level. Gusto lang naton ensakto ang proseso,” he said.