HUNDREDS of Manila vendors on Monday marched to the Manila City Hall urging Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada to drop the privatization plans on 17 public markets in the city.
Olympia Santos Bichara, president of Santa Ana Vendors Association, said the 300 stall owners of Santa Ana Market were surprised on Sunday night when orange steel cages were delivered.
The City Engineering Office said the cages only serve as temporary stalls while the market is undergoing repairs.
Bichara said their market does not need changes since it had just been renovated during the term of then-mayor Lito Atienza, when the wet and dry markets were once separated.
Vendors from the markets of Quinta, San Andres, Trabajo and Sampaloc also joined the rally in front of the City Hall. Renovations from their markets were already approved by the City Council while Quinta Market’s demolition is nearing completion.
Meanwhile, Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, without naming names, said some politicians are instigating the protest marches of the vendors.
The Vice Mayor might be referring to Manila Rep. Amado Bagatsing and Councilor Ali Atienza who have been conducting a series of meetings with the vendors.
Atienza was seen talking with the vendors yesterday, while Bagatsing was not around.
The vendor’s march was coupled with “market holidays” at 6am until midnight in the markets of San Andres, Trabajo, Santa Ana, Sampaloc and Quinta.
Vendors of Paco, Dagohoy, Pritil, including sidewalk vendors from Rizal Park, Pedro Gil, Padre Faura and Manila Bay also joined the march.
“Our strong and firm determination to oppose our local government’s scheme to privatize our public markets will never be silenced amid threat of the mayor to arrest the rallyists today,” Marcos Libres, president of the Sampaloc Public Market Alliance (Sampal), said.
“We will give up our livelihood to the very end because this is the only thing we have to feed our families. Privatizing the markets will only mean higher rentals and higher prices of goods. Only the city officials and the private firms will benefit from these renovations,” he added.
The vendors are asking Estrada to junk Ordinance 8346 allowing the renovations to modernize the 17 public markets and transfer of the management to private companies for 25 years.