City gov’t to ambulant vendors: You’re out! Muslim traders cry out foul over alleged discrimination

Asserting its strong hands to drive out ambulant vendors along the side streets in the city’s main thoroughfares, the city government ordered an immediate demolition of all ambulant traders with emphasis that there will no sacred cow in the name of the Law.

Authorities said, they are now implementing the existing law that prohibits ambulant vendors along strategic areas in the city which they described, had caused traffic congestion in the City of Surigao .

It was stipulated in one of the sections of the City Ordinance No. 228 series of 2005 otherwise known as the Comprehensive Traffic Ordinance which expressly states “Sidewalks must be free from obstruction”.

However, traders fronting the public market facing Borromeo Street and nearby areas, mostly Maranaos cried out foul as they were given warning by the city sidewalk task force to vacate their area or else, the task force will forcibly do the demolition in accordance with the existing City Ordinance.

The Muslim traders find no reason to vacate their stalls, saying they stayed and being allowed to engage business in their respective places for how many years since the three previous administrations.

In their letter addressed to the Director of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos Hon. Molaim Guro dated January 31, 2011, the Surigao Muslim Association are asking for help and appealed to Dir. Guro to intercede with their problem.

They explained that Muslim Traders were being allowed to occupy and engage business in the areas mentioned for the past 3 city administrations in the context of “co-existence” with the Christian traders who also engaged in small-time trading in that same location.

In their letter to Dir. Guro, they said “We felt being discriminated not because of our illegal occupation or action but because of being a Muslim”, Maranao traders vehemently expressed.

Former City Mayor Pons Casurra giving his view on the ambulant issue, said those vendors or stalls surrounding the City Public Market have been there for a quite some time by virtue of an agreement between the former city governments and the Surigao Muslim Association which had been carried over in the past four administrations.

Casurra stressed” that certain area there in the public market was intended for that Muslim traders, for the city to have full control over them and somehow regulate their existence, and putting them somewhere else will only create another layer of problem”

“ If the city has the new area for relocation and time come if that area will needed again by public or private use, it will eventually become a problem again”, he said.

Recently, the task force successfully drive out the rolling vegetable stands fronting the Public Market in San Nicolas street, flower shops at the luneta park including other sidewalk areas, but it was lately observed, only the flower shops at the Luneta were demolished and transferred, the rest were still standing and unfazed.

Authorities said that they are implementing the law phase by phase and that is the reason behind why there are still remaining sidewalk vendors who were engaging business as of press time.

City Administrator Manuel Coro in a media interview, said that the city government has already identify an area somewhere in between Panlatan I and Pantalan II to be the place for relocation of those driven ambulant traders.

An ambulant vegetable trader who requested for anonymity appealed to City Mayor Ernesto Matugas to put on hold the implementation of wiping out sidewalk vendors surrounding the public market taking into consideration their poor situation where most of them coming from far-flung areas just to make small time business to feed their families.

They said, if they will be relocated somewhere in an area which is not strategic and advantageous for selling their goods, then it could greatly affect their livelihood status.

Speaking in Surigaonon dialect “ Laong mahigugmaon sa mga kabus si Mayor Nitoy tapos kuman paiwaton kami sa amo tagtindahan, gamay ra gain inin amo negosyo!”, an ambulant vendor told the Karaga News Central.

Estimated to a hundred ambulant stalls are engaging small time businesses in Surigao City who’s according to report, also paying taxes or (Arkabala) to the city government.

 

(Natz Corbeta, Editor/Publisher, Karaga News Central with reports from Lito Gibertas)
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