Surigao sidewalk vendors: We’re not illegal

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/21 November) — Saying the local government collects fees from then, sidewalk vendors plying their trade just across the Surigao City Public Market insisted they can’t be considered illegal as some would depict them to be.

City Hall has allowed the display of fruits, vegetables and other market goods near the public market, to the chagrin of regular vendors who complained of unfair competition.

Market Public Market Vendors Association chairman Rudy Bagonas had earlier indicated they would be hard-pressed on paying the proposed increase in rentals because the presence of sidewalk vendors within their turf had reduced their profits.

Bagonas’s group had called on City Hall to enforce a city ordinance banning ambulant vendors around the public market peripheries.

But Surigao City Vegetable Growers and Vendors Association chairperson Jenilita R. Malig-on dismissed the claim, saying their members are being charged the daily “arkabala” or fees to be allowed to sell along San Nicolas.

She said that if there are vendors who would be apprehended, it should be those who are not paying fees to the local government, such as those located in other streets like, Diez, Sarvida, Borromeo and Amat.

She said the farm products sold by these vendors are from Bukidnon, Agusan, Davao and Misamis provinces.

Malig-on said that they pay a daily rental of about P500, depending on the number of vendors who display goods at a given day. She said she has more than 70 members.

She said their presence could not be considered illegal because their members are vegetable growers from the city who are assisted by the local government through free seedlings and fertilizers.

Malig-on said their first-class farm products are sold to regular market vendors while those that are in the second-class category are the ones that end up being displayed on the streets.

“That’s why they would complain because what we display here is cheaper. To think that we’re planting seeds given by the city government for our livelihood,” she added.

She said Mayor Ernesto Matugas helped them through farm subsidy, and the city allocates a hefty sum to agriculture.

Malig-on said the regular vendors should not take it against them because they only display their goods from 3 to 9 a.m., either across or in front of the public market along San Nicolas Street. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)