Divisoria vendors to Isko Moreno: ‘Give us another chance’

Bonz Magsambol

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Divisoria vendors to Isko Moreno: ‘Give us another chance’
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno says there will be designated areas for vendors, but away from 'organizers' who are illegally collecting fees from them

MANILA, Philippines – Manila Mayor Isko Moreno might have earned praises for declogging major thoroughfares in the city, but vendors affected by the clearing operations are lamenting the city government’s supposed lack of relocation plans for them. (READ: A preview of ‘Bagong Maynila’? Isko Moreno’s first week in office)

Nafarin Manalo, one of the vendors in Divisoria, told Rappler that since the clearing operations started two weeks ago, she had been constantly worrying about how to make ends meet. A mother of 4 and the sole provider for the family, Manalo earned a living from selling dry goods along the crowded Divisoria streets for close to 10 years. 

“Sobrang apektado ang pamumuhay namin. Paano kami sa pang araw-araw? Dalawa nag-aaral sa anak ko,” said Manalo. (Our livelihoods are affected. How do we get by every day? I have two children who are still studying.)

Manalo said police were asked to clear their stalls on the day itself without any prior notice. “Lahat kami nagulat na lang noong araw na iyon na lilinisin at aalisin na pala tindahan namin. Dati naman kay Mayor Erap, sinasabihan kami na pansamantala muna kaming aalis habang nililnis.”

(We were all shocked that on the same day we were notified, we were also asked to leave. During Mayor Erap’s time, they would tell us to temporarily vacate the area while they were cleaning it.)

On the day the vendors were asked to clear the area, they immediately packed their goods. Among them was Marissa Soriano, 48, and a mother of two. 

“’Niligpit agad namin ang mga paninda namin. Kaya lang natagalan rin kami natapos kasi medyo marami rin talaga kaming tinda,” said Soriano. (We immediately packed our goods. But it took us some time to finish packing because we have a lot of products.)

‘Give us another chance’

Though the clearing operations might have disrupted the livelihood of some vendors, Moreno said it was needed to put order in the city and give the streets of Manila “back to the people.” (READ: Isko Moreno’s clearing operations: Which Manila areas have been covered?)

However, according to Manalo, two weeks after they were dislodged from the area, no plans of relocation had been laid out for them.

“Basta nagpalinis siya, wala siyang sinabi. Although nangako siya, sabi niya ayos na. ‘Yung hinihintay ng mga kasamahan ko na manininda, ‘yung ‘pinangako niya na relocation. Nasaan na ‘yon?” added Manalo. (He ordered the area cleared without prior notice. Although he promised and said everything was taken care of. What we’re waiting for is his promise of relocation. Where is it?)

Both Manalo and Soriano appealed to Moreno for another chance. They promised that they would do it right this time. 

Soriano said they were only asking for a small space in the Divisoria district where the clearing operations were done. 

ANOTHER CHANCE. Vendors appeal to Manila mayor Isko Moreno to give them another chance. Photo by Ponch Escobar/Rappler
ANOTHER CHANCE. Vendors appeal to Manila mayor Isko Moreno to give them another chance. Photo by Ponch Escobar/Rappler

“Kailangan po naming maghanapbuhay. Kahit po isang metro lang, masaya na po kami. Gusto lang po namin na maibalik ang hanapbuhay namin. Ayun lang po ang hiling namin sa ating mayor,” she said.  (We need to earn a living. Give us one meter of space, we would be happy. We only want our livelihood back.)

This was echoed by Manalo, saying, “Susunod naman kami sa mga rules and regulations. I-implement lang kung hanggang saan kami. ‘Yung lalabag, may authority siya na ipasara kung lalabag ang isa.” (We will follow the rules and regulations. Just designate a place for us. Those who will commit offenses, he has the authority to punish them.)

In a press briefing on Monday, July 15, Moreno said there will be space for vendors in places designated by the city government. 

“Bibigyan naman po natin ang ating mga vendors na makapaghanapbuhay doon sa mga pupuwede pa na mga lugar. And, hopefully, pangalagaan na nila iyon at isaayos na nila iyon,” Moreno told reporters. (We will give our vendors a legal place where they can find a source of living. And, hopefully, they will take care of it and keep it in order.)

In the long-term, Moreno said, he is eyeing to have an alternative shopping area where vendors can set up shop permanently.  

Moreno then called upon unauthorized organizers to go back to their cities and leave Manila vendors alone. 

“Vendors lang ang hindi yumayaman sa kanila eh. Organizers lang ang yumayaman,” said Moreno. (The vendors aren’t the ones getting rich. It’s just the organizers who do.)

Moreno added, “Sinasabi ko sa inyo, mga organizer, magsibalik na kayo sa inyong mga bayan, hindi na po kayo welcome dito.” (I am telling you, organizers, go back to your cities, you’re no longer welcome here.)

In a Rappler Talk interview in May, Moreno said these supposed organizers – operating practically like syndicates – would charge each vendor P220 to P350 a day. In contrast, the city government has an ordinance requiring a hawker’s fee of only P20 a day. (WATCH: Rappler Talk: Isko Moreno on remaking Manila

‘Hindi kami basura’

Since Moreno took office, images of him doing inspections in the busy streets of Manila and reprimanding traffic violators have been going around on social media earning praises from netizens. (READ: ‘Wala nang mayor na natutulog sa Maynila’ – Isko Moreno)

According to Manalo, they were hurt by how some netizens have tagged them as “basura” (trash). “Hindi po kami basura, nagtatrabaho lang kami rito,” she added. (We are not trash, we’re only making a living here.)

Meanwhile, Soriano said that it was not only the vendors who clogged the streets of Manila, the unloading and loading of jeepney drivers at the middle of the road posed a major problem, too.

“At saka hindi lang naman po vendor ang nakakatrapik, pati po yung mga jeep na nagbababa sa gitna ng kalye na hindi pa napupuno eh hindi pa aalis,” said Soriano. (It’s not only the vendors who clog the traffic, but also the jeepney drivers who are loading and unloading passengers in the middle of the street.) 

In a dialogue with jeepney drivers on on July 9, Moreno asked the drivers to support him in bringing back order to Manila’s roads. He assured them that the city government would police drivers operating without franchises and are found to be disobeying traffic rules. (READ: Isko Moreno asks Manila jeepney drivers to stop cutting trips) – Rappler.com

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.