Rama on road clearing:National government must intervene
CEBU, Philippines — Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama wants the national government to intervene in local efforts to clear Colon Street, the oldest street in Cebu and the Philippines, of vendors in a manner that would not compromise social justice.
“They are part of the so-called katilingban. Therefore, we must go… proceed with an integrated, comprehensive program to address this concern (They are part of the society, therefore, we must proceed with an integrated and comprehensive program to address this concern),” Rama said yesterday.
Colon Street and Osmeña Boulevard were identified by the Department of Interior and Local Government as priority streets in the order of President Rodrigo Duterte for all local government units to reclaim public roads from private use to ease traffic.
DILG identified Colon Street and Osmeña Boulevard as they are considered landmarks.
Rama said he has sent communication to the Office of the President through Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go in order to talk personally with President Rodrigo Duterte on the matter.
He said his request is “under consideration.”
Rama pointed out that social justice should not be left out in programs the national government implements like the order to clear the streets, which affects Cebu City directly.
“Na-mayor ko, I have addressed this group… I know nga kini sila maminaw. Ang ako gikagul-an karon, whether on the side sa national government and local, whether we are quick to address sa kagutom ug dislocation aning mga tawhana
(I was mayor once and I have addressed this group… I know that they will listen. My worry now is whether the national or local governments are addressing the effects of the road clearing like starvation and dislocation),” Rama said, referring to the vendors.
Rama made it clear that he is not against the order of the President to clear roads of obstructions and illegal structures – only that the government should also look into the welfare of the vendors affected.
“Nindot na ang Colon, nindot na ang Osmeña Boulevard… ang pangutana, asa na man ang mga kabus (Colon Street looks better… Osmeña Boulevard looks better… the question that remains – where are the poor people now)?” Rama said.
Besides, he pointed out, it is the vendors that bring life to the streets at night, especially in the downtown area.
“Wagtanga na sila, tan-awa igka-gabii unsay hitsura sa Colon ug Osmeña Boulevard. Colon, dili mahimong mamingaw labi na gyud inig ka-gabii. Unsay makapanindot? Ang night market (Remove all of them and see how Colon Street and Osmeña Boulevard will look like at night… Colon Street can’t be barren, especially at night. It’s the night market that keeps it alive),” he said.
Aside from Colon Street and Osmeña Boulevard, N. Bacalso Avenue, another major street, as well as 10 other streets in Cebu City, has already been cleared of obstructions.
The challenge now is how to sustain it.
Raquel Arce, head of the Prevention, Restoration, Order, Beautification, Enhancement (PROBE) team in Cebu City, said that PROBE personnel have been assigned to keep an eye on the streets so that vendors will not return. Colon Street and Osmeña Boulevard are now considered ‘no vending zones.’
“We are doing our job,” said Arce said.
Arce confirmed that three sidewalk vendors had their wares confiscated last Tuesday and this will be the case for every vendor that will return to Colon Street or Osmeña Boulevard. If that vendor has a spot at the ‘Tabo sa Banay’ downtown, that vendor will lose that spot, too.
“There’s no reason for them to go back,” Arce said.
She said other streets still have vendors operating but the vendors are now being “regulated” as the city continues to look for relocation sites. JMO (FREEMAN)