By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
Second of two parts (click here for the first part)
BAGUIO CITY – Vendors interviewed claim that the anti-vending policy remains in place while the city has yet to identify areas for vending.
ANTI-VENDING POLICY. Sidewalk vendors bid the city council to review its seven-year old anti-vending ordinance to help them continue selling. It is their only source of livelihood. Nordis file photo
“Still we do not know our fate if we are among the duly registered vendors or those the city plan to register,” said vendor Mendoza. Politicians promise to address these problems during election time but fail to act on it when elected.
The POSD said that the anti-vending law is meant to clear sidewalks and roads crowded by sidewalk vendors.
Aling Maria denied it was so. In their long stay and vending at the Hangar Market here, she claimed that the vendors organized themselves and police their ranks. Prior to the Bautista administration, she claimed they were allowed one tray of goods each to vend in designated spaces at the market.
“We even help in crime prevention by helping in the arrests of illegal elements like pickpockets, added Aling Naty, who has six children at various school levels.
Aling Naty and Aling Maria lament that vendors not registered and not paying kurtais have to play “cat-and-mouse” with the authorities. “When they are not here, we sell our goods but run away in their presence,” added Aling Naty.
If their wares are confiscated, sidewalk vendors may recover these for a fine. For those selling wagwag (second hand clothing), their fine is P1,000.00 and lower for non-wagwag vendors.
The sidewalk vendors say they need a daily capital of P1,000 to P2,000 to earn some P 150 to P200 per day during peak season. Their daily income however is lower than a living wage established by government data.
The office of the Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Board (RTWPB) says that a decent living wage for a family of six is P883 per day. RTWPB breakdown says, P233 is allocated for food, P570 for non-food and 10 percent for others. The basic wage in the region is P 235 per day.
“When our wares are taken, it is a double-loss for us. We lose our income and our capital.” explained Manang Ana. Their recourse is to re-loan from the Bombay on terms of what is commonly called the five-six system.
Kurtais-paying vendors experience similar problems faced by non paying vendors.
Christy Ngolab, a mother of three, supplies her native woven products to the night vendors.
She explained that their woven materials used to sell fast. But “the demand now is already low and sometimes nobody from our customers come to buy our products.”
She said she can finish 10 pieces hand woven décor of 10 x 28 inches, a day. Each piece is sold at P 40.00. If all 10 pieces are sold, less expenses, they can earn P200.00, just enough to cover the basic needs for one day.
There are times that even kurtais-payingvendors are prohibited to sell. “Paying kurtais is not an assurance for a regular sale of their wares in their area,” she explained. Under the Tax Code, kurtais is not a business permit hence they are not assured of a livelihood. Business permit is issued by the city to registered vendors, who usually rent market stalls.
The right to livelihood
The Samakana (Samahan ng Maralitang Kababaihang Nagkakaisa or Association of United Urban Poor Women), an organization of about 250 women vendors in the city, has been lobbying for the city to repeal Section 178 of the Tax Ordinance for the benefit of small vendors. They brought it to the attention of some councilors but no formal commitment came from them.
They also lobbied for the identification of areas for vendors and to conduct a feasibility study for support systems such as subsidies during the early period of their engagement.
“All of this boils down to one issue – our right to livelihood,” Ngolab said in her native language. She said people would still go back to selling their wares despite the anti-vending provision because vending is their only means of livelihood.
Included in those who would be affected are around 107 children who sell products such as plastic bags, balut (fertilized duck eggs) and offer shoe shine services after school or during weekends.
She said the government should consider that most sidewalk vendors belong to the urban poor. Facing threats in their livelihood is just half of their struggle; most also face eviction from their homes due to the city’s anti-squatting policy.
“How can we be assured of our right to life if support systems like our rights to a secured livelihood are not recognized?” Ngolab asked. “Respecting our rights, rather than criminalizing our only source of livelihood is what we need.”
Human rights violations?
Human rights advocates in this city claimed that the ordinance contradicts the constitution and other international instruments which aim to address poverty and respects the people’s right to livelihood and employment.
“The failure of the government to provide adequate means of livelihood or opportunities for these sidewalk vendors is considered a human rights violation,” said lawyer Manja Bayang, of the Dinteg Inc. or the Cordillera Indigenous People’s Law Center.
Urban poor leader Ignacio Pangket said that it is frustrating that this age old problem of sidewalk vending is not adequately addressed by the local authorities.
“Our right to livelihood is not only recognized by the Constitution through the state policies. Even international laws like the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) where the Philippine state is a signatory recognized this right (to livelihood),” reiterated Pangket, chairman of the Organisasyon Dagiti Nakurapay nga Umili it Siyudad (ORNUS or Alliance of Urban Poor Groups in the City).
“How can we realize and protect the fundamental right to life if our livelihood is threatened and criminalized? These people had been here earlier but their problem remains not addressed by the government,” he ended. #