Malaybalay mayor junks mall’s application for wet market

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/13 October) — City Mayor Ignacio W. Zubiri said his decision rejecting Gaisano Mall’s application to run a wet market has become final.

Zubiri told MindaNews via telephone Wednesday he made up his mind after meeting with a son-in-law of one of the owners and two mall officials.

He said allowing Gaisano to run a wet market would be detrimental to the city public market and the meat vendors there.

The mayor belied allegations his decision was influenced by Vice Mayor Victor Aldeguer and the vice mayor’s brother in-law, City Councilor Medardo Estaniel, president of the Association of Barangay Councils in Malaybalay.

“That’s not true. No one can dictate on me,” he said. “We have decided (against the permit) because it is detrimental to our public market and the meat vendors there,” he explained.

Aldeguer’s family runs a wet market located near Gaisano Mall.

As early as August, the mayor, citing the same reason, had said he would not allow Gaisano to open a wet market.

In March 2009, Zubiri, then the vice mayor, lamented the incentives the city government gave to Gaisano through an ordinance, calling it unfair.

The ordinance, approved in July 2008, exempts the mall from paying for the next five years the amusement tax and basic real property tax, and only asks it to pay only the Special Education Fund.

Locators with a capital of at least P500,000 are exempt from paying business tax on their first year of operation.

A move to amend the ordinance did not prosper.

Then mayor and now Bukidnon 2nd district Rep. Florencio Flores Jr. opposed the move, saying it would cast doubts on the city’s credibility to investors. He said the incentives were commensurate to Gaisano’s huge investment.

Gaisano Mall will reportedly cost P500 million. Construction is still ongoing, although most of its sections have opened this year. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)