Why Cebu’s Carbon Market vendors refuse to leave

John Sitchon

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Why Cebu’s Carbon Market vendors refuse to leave

DEMOLISHED Vendors and residents remove their belongings and scavenge anything of value after the demolition of their stalls at Carbon Public Market in Cebu City on July 18, 2022.

Jacqueline Hernandez/Rappler

While vendors claim they would pay higher rental fees for their new spots, city officials say the old stalls were removed for occupying the road

CEBU, Philippines – Vendors of Cebu City’s historic Carbon Market refused to leave quietly when at least 80 stalls near the Freedom Public Park were demolished Monday morning, July 18.

Dozens gathered around 8 am in the area between the two new market locations to protest the move by the Cebu City Market Administration. 

As more residents came out to protest, police reinforcements arrived to make sure the demolition order was carried out.

At around 10 am, the local vendor group Carbon-hanong Alyansa held an ecumenical religious service to protest against the demolition. 

According to the group, at least 8,000 vendors will be affected by the city government’s continuing demolitions for the Carbon Market Modernization project.

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Why is the city demolishing market stalls?

According to the Office of the City Markets, old stalls were being demolished to clear pathways leading to the new market.

“These vendors are supposedly transferred just very near where their stalls used to be, just a few blocks away but they don’t want to,” City Market Administrator Wendell Cenas said in a mix of English and Cebuano.

Cenas also clarified that they would never remove stalls located in areas that were private-owned.

“This development in Carbon is for everyone. All of it would look clean right after the demolition,” he added. 

Why Cebu’s Carbon Market vendors refuse to leave

Because of the development plan to fully utilize the new Carbon Market, vendors are being transferred to the interim market.

In 2020, Megawide began construction for the redevelopment of the 100-year-old market in downtown Cebu City.

On July 13, the Office of the City Markets sent notices to transfer to all vendors, space occupants, and stallholders.

In these notices, Cenas ordered the ambulant vendors to clear their market stalls/spaces and voluntarily transfer to the Interim Market, which is situated at Unit II of the Carbon Market.

Vendors were given until July 18 to comply with the directive or be forcibly moved out.

The office has previously sent similar notices to vendors in different parts of the Carbon Market. 

On July 15, some stalls that were located within close proximity of the New Carbon Market were also demolished by the local government.

Why won’t vendors leave?

Arlynn Subing-subing, a 51-year-old vendor, told Rappler that they did not want to be removed from their area because she believed the fees for rent and product tariffs were too high.

Subing-subing has been selling fruits and vegetables in the market for more than 40 years.

She relies heavily on her earnings from the market to support her 4 children following the recent death of her husband.

Maawa sana sila sa amin. 8,000 kami dito na nangangailangan at sa Carbon Market lang kami kumikita (They should have pity on us. There are 8,000 of us here who have needs and we only make our living from Carbon Market),” she said.

Vendors rights organizers say they would have to choose between paying higher rental fees at the new market area or being forced to sell goods in a closed-off section of the market with the least customers.

In a previous interview with Rappler, Megawide denied market renovations would lead to higher rents.

The Subing-subing family is among 700 who are affected by the first demolitions conducted by the local government.

Anna Ariosa, president of the Carbon-hanong Alyansa said that they already filed for a temporary restraining order at the Regional Trial Court in Cebu City.

In a letter sent to the Office of City Markets, lawyers Cherie Lyn Moslares and Felix Borata, representatives of the vendors, stated that there was still an ongoing court mediation on this matter.

“Proposals have already been made and there are ongoing talks with the aim to arrive at the most reasonable and least prejudicial agreement to both parties,” it read.

Ariosa said that the Cebu City Legal Office asked for an extension of the mediation but they have yet to submit a new counter-proposal.

“We were supposed to be in the mediation part of our case because we wanted a mutual understanding from both parties, and yet this happened,” Ariosa said in a mix of English and Cebuano.

A representative of Megawide declined to speak to Rappler and deferred questions related to the demolition to the city government. –

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