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Vendors’ plea to operate in Baywalk, Luneta junked

With a heavy heart, Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada has turned down the request of a group of illegal vendors to be allowed to operate in Baywalk and within the vicinities of Rizal Park.
Estrada said he would violate the law if he would issue hawker’s permits to the sidewalk vendors who earlier had held a protest rally at the Manila Police District (MPD) headquarters to complain about the alleged extortion activities of several Ermita-based policemen.
“As much as I want to help you, I cannot allow you this time. Gusto ko man kayo tulungan pero lalabag naman tayo sa batas,” he told the vendors belonging to urban poor group Kadamay Manila and United Vendors Alliance during a dialog at the city hall last Friday, March 17.
Still, he offered the vendors a glimmer of hope: “We will look into it. We will find ways to help you, find a suitable place for you. But for now, makinig muna kayo sa akin. Hindi kayo puedeng magtinda talaga doon.”
Estrada admitted he allowed the vendors back then to operate in Luneta and Baywalk upon the request of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) which came up with a livelihood program to provide vendors with uniform food carts.
The program failed though, Estrada said. “From then on, we never allowed any vendor in those areas.”
“Kaya pasensya na kayo, hindi na kayo puedeng bigyan ng permit diyan. Kung kaya ko lang at puede lang ay gusto ko kayong tulungan, pero sa ngayon hindi natin magagawa,” he told the vendors.
Explaining his firm decision, Estrada stressed  he had to consider also the rights of the motorists and pedestrians affected by the proliferation of vendors along the sidewalks and roadways as well as those of legitimate business owners.
“I’ve been honest with you. If I can do it, I’ll do it,” he said. “Those areas are part of our Tourist Belt and we want to keep them clean and traffic-free.”
“Iniisip ko kabutihan niyo, ang kabutihan ng lungsod, lahat ‘yun iniisip ko. Alam ko katayuan ng pamilya niyo. Alam ko masakit. Sumunod muna kayo sandali at pag-aaralan namin,” he further advised the dejected vendors.
Last Wednesday, the vendors, numbering around 30, staged a protest rally at the headquarters of MPD to complain about the alleged extortion activities of several Ermita-based policemen.
According to the vendors, several members of the MPD-Ermita Station had been forcing them to pay P100 to P200 daily, threatening to drive them away if they refused to do so.
Interviewed by the media, the vendors claimed they paid P1,500 for a hawker’s permit signed by no less than Estrada which the city’s Bureau of Permits dismissed as spurious.
Bureau of Permits chief Fortune Mayuga clarified that as a policy, no new vendor’s permits have been issued for Baywalk and Luneta areas.
The entire Manila portion of Roxas Boulevard, Mayuga stressed, is a vendors-free zone.

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