Councilor Amado Estrada, in a privilege speech on March 25, called on his colleagues to look at the situation of market vendors as the opening of the new public market is stalled and with the growth of shops outside the public market.
"By approving the operations of meat shops and wet markets in the downtown area, we are sealing the fate of our legitimate vendors in the public market. Such act is tantamount to carving the tombstone of their day-to-day subsistence," he said in his speech where he described the issue as "very baffling."
Estrada stressed the need for objectivity in approaching the issue, considered by the vendors sector as a "long-time" problem in the city.
"Let us not be wanton in our decision. Let us remain objective. Or if we have lost such objectivity, let us slow down and re-think. What will it profit the city and her people if only a few stand to gain with the meat shops and wet market operation downtown?" he said.
The 300-member Malaybalay City Market Vendors Association asked the city council in February to reconsider the approval of wet market and meat shop applications as the consumers no longer buy from the public market.
The vendors have decried unprofitable operations and the spread of "illegal vendors" when they lobbied at the city council early February.
Estrada, who chairs the committee on economic enterprise, told MindaNews they have started to mind the petition by approving provisional franchises to operators who apply for renewal of permits.
He said they have granted Monterey, a meat shop operator in the down town area, a one-year franchise to distribute meat products instead of a longer term.
Estrada said approving the applications favors only a few people.
There were reports some meat shop owners are operating with franchises they have assumed from other holders.
Rosa Onda, who operates Onda's Meat Shop, said they could not dictate on the buyers as they are only there to provide choices.
The councilor said the opening of the P241-million new Malaybalay City Public Market might not be possible as scheduled on May 14 since it is embroiled in a legal tussle and an ongoing investigation by a task force. The construction, he said, was stopped due to the termination of the construction contract. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)