Displaced by road project, Davao vendors appeal for relocation

May. 21, 2023
TUTTI FRUTTI. These yummy fruits in Davao City’s Agdao public market are certainly delicious, nutritious and could fill our hungry stomachs -- a good way to observe the country’s nutrition month with this year’s theme: Gutom at malnutrisyon, sama-sama nating wakasan! The celebration aims to “increase awareness on hunger issues and actions to mitigate hunger and malnutrition; encourage stakeholders to contribute in addressing hunger issues; and to advocate for stronger political action to end hunger.” (davaotoday.com photo by Medel V. Hernani)
davaotoday.com file photo by Medel V. Hernani

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – More than 150 sidewalk vendors near the newly developed three-story structure of the Agdao Public Market have appealed to the local government for relocation after being barred from selling in the area since Holy Week.

The Davao City Economic Enterprise said the vendors needed to make way for a road widening project.

“My members have nowhere to go since they lost their livelihood. We appeal to officials to allow us to continue with our daily living,” said Hadji Fatima Facundo, chairperson of the Agdao Sincere Sidewalk Vendors Association Incorporated.

The association comprises 98 fish, meat, chicken, fruit, and vegetable vendors who typically begin selling their goods at 3 pm and conclude early in the evening. Most of them cannot afford the rent for stalls inside the market.

Facundo said they chose to sell in front of a private building because they find the space rent to be expensive.

“We only sell in the afternoon. Unlike those who rent a space in the market, we only sell in small quantities, in pails,” Facundo said.

City hall’s demolition team prevented them from occupying the sidewalks to prevent traffic congestion. 

ASSVAI members gathered their products and dismantled their makeshift stalls, wondering where they could continue their trade.

No trading means no income, and no income means no food on their tables. Facundo is concerned because some members of their association resorted to “5-6,” a money lending scheme that charges 20% interest on the borrowed amount, to obtain capital.

“We are like flies driven away from our areas,” said Benny Salotillo, the chairperson of Palawan Road 1 Vendors Association.

Salotillo said 64 of their members pay P134 for a stall measuring less than one meter every two weeks, but “they do not care about what will happen to us.”

Their group has proposed being relocated to Dacudao or at least being given four hours to sell in the same location.

Salotillo said, “We have not received prompt attention from the city.”

Davao City Economic Enterprise officer-in-charge Maximo Macalipes Jr. said the vendors had to be prevented from the area because of a road widening project which is part of the third phase of the market construction.

Macalipes said they had informed the vendors in advance to allow them time to prepare. He, however, said they cannot facilitate the proposed relocation because the suggested area falls outside their jurisdiction.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Region XI plans to hand over the rehabilitation of the Agdao Farmer’s Market, estimated at P740 million, to the Davao City government between May and June.

The market has a total of 717 stalls, but only the first 480 will be turned over this year. A total of 495 vendors have been pre-identified to occupy the available stalls, but the raffling of specific locations is yet to be conducted.

DPWH-Davao spokesperson Dean Ortiz said the market will be a significant modern facility that will boost social and economic activity in the city. (originally posted on rappler.com)

Lucelle Bonzo is an Aries Rufo Journalism fellow.

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