Displaced by road clearing: Street vendors can’t go back
CEBU, Philippines — Vendors in Cebu City who were removed from the streets following a clearing operation mandated by President Rodrigo Duterte can no longer go back to their original locations.
This was clarified by Raquel Arce, head of the city’s Prevention, Restoration, Order, Beautification, Enhancement (PROBE) team following a conversation with the vendors at Plaza Sugbo yesterday morning.
Market Administrator Jonil Matuguina and lawyer June Aragones also attended the meeting.
Arce assured that the vendors will be moved to new locations where they can continue to sell their goods.
Earlier, following Duterte’s order, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) issued a memorandum for local government units to reclaim public roads from private use to ease traffic.
Cebu City beat the September 29 deadline by clearing two major roads – Osmeña Boulevard and Colon Street. DILG itself identified the two roads as priorities in the clearing operation as these are considered landmarks. Colon Street, for one, is the oldest street in the Philippines.
Arce said that aside from Osmeña Boulevard and Colon Street, N. Bacalso Avenue, another major street, as well as 10 other streets, has already been cleared of obstructions.
She said the city decided to clear the roads gradually because it is looking for relocation sites for vendors.
“Ang direktiba sa mayor, no eviction when there’s no relocation (The mayor’s directive is not evict vendors unless there is a relocation site for them),” Arce said.
Around 100 to 200 sidewalk vendors are yet to be relocated.
The vendors, however, remain hopeful they can return to their original locations.
The ones who used to sell along Colon Street, Osmeña Boulevard, and Sanciangko Street said they cannot earn as much at the Tabo sa Banay on P. Gullas Street because the area is overcrowded.
“Di mi kaabot sa among puhunan (It’s difficult to earn our investment back),” said one food stall owner.
Arce asked the vendors to be “open to change.”
She said the city is also preparing F. Gonzales Street as another relocation area for the displaced vendors.
Matuguina also offered the vacant slots at the city’s markets.
“Nihatag lang ta sa unsay atong kaya ihatag (We have offered to them what the city can offer),” Arce said.
DILG will validate the outcome of the clearing operation on Saturday, October 5. — JMO (FREEMAN)