The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the local chief city executives of Pasay and Parañaque recently teamed up in clearing the streets in Baclaran of illegal street vendors in compliance to the order of President Rodrigo Duterte to reclaim all public roads being used for private purposes.

MMDA Chairman Danilo Lim, MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia, Pasay City Mayor Imelda Calixto-Rubiano, Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez along with other officials from the MMDA and the local governments led the operation.

With the project being far from completion, Garcia said a cleanup can be sustainable with determination from both the national and local governments.

“Dati naman kasi kaya pabalik-balik ‘yan, sabi ko nga hindi ganoong kaano ‘yung mandato eh. Kumbaga napagbibigyan. Pag ginusto talaga, mawawala, hindi babalik (In the past, the reason why ambulant vendors keep coming back is because of lack of will to enforce a mandate against the private use of public roads. In other words, they were indulged. But if we really want it, they could be removed and we won’t let them come back),” the MMDA official said.

Olivarez said a cleanup must be sustainable through cooperation between national and local government bodies.

“What we’re doing must be sustainable.”

“Ang ginagawa natin sustainable dapat, hindi ‘yung isang araw lang makikita natin malinis, second day malinis. So in-organize na ng ating MMDA, ng ating city government at ng yung mga barangay to be sustainable itong ating lugar na ito at kasama rin natin ang police dito (What we’re doing must be sustainable, we should see this clean not just for a day or two. So the MMDA organized this with our city government, the barangays to make this sustainable through the help of the police as well),” the mayor said.

Olivarez added that illegal street vendors who once clogged the streets of Baclaran may be transferred to vacant commercial spaces for them to be able to do business legally.

“Kung makikita natin dito sa Baclaran may mga bakante tayong mga building dito na commercial spaces naman, na doon natin ilalagay sila para maging ligal na sila doon sa kanilang pagtitinda (In Baclaran we can see vacant commercial spaces in buildings, then that’s where we’ll put the once illegal vendors to make their businesses legal),” Olivarez said.

Rubiano meanwhile said she spoke with the Pasay City Council about establishing a night market or a free market for the displaced vendors in her area of jurisdiction.

“Kinausap ko rin po ang aming konseho na mag ordinansa para magkaroon kami ng night market o free market dito sa Lungsod ng Pasay (I also have spoken with our council to come up with an ordinance that would provide for a night market or a free market here in the city of Pasay),” the Pasay City mayor said.

The MMDA said the move to rid the streets of ambulant vendors is not a move to displace them but one which aims for the common good.

“It’s for the common good.”

“Hindi kami anti-vendor. Inaayos lang natin, itinatama lang natin. Nililinis lang natin. Kasi nga ‘yungcommon good. Para madaanan ng mga motorista. Kumbaga kung may isang daang pamilya ang mga vendors, ang naaapektuhan niyan libu-libong motorista (We’re not anti-vendor. We’re just fixing this, making this right. We’re just cleaning. It’s for the common good. So, the streets can be used by motorists. If vendors have hundreds of family members, thousands of motorists are affected on the other hand),” Garcia said.

Vendors themselves are willing to participate in the cleanup.

“Kita niyo naman ‘yan ginigiba, pumapayag naman sila kasi alam nilang mali. Pag alam nilang mali, susunod ‘yan (As you can see it’s being demolished, but vendors agree to it because they know it shouldn’t be there. If they know it’s wrong, they will comply),” he said.

When asked about the displaced vendors affected by the cleanup, Garcia said the MMDA along with the local governments are working to provide them with legal and sustainable livelihoods but their past work as illegal vendors must be sacrificed.

“Hindi natin pwedeng i-compromise ‘yung utos. Hindi natin puwedeng i-compromise ‘yung kalsada. Kailangan may magsakripisyo (We can’t compromise the order. We can’t compromise the roads. There has to be a sacrifice),” he said.

Duterte, during his fourth State of the Nation Address on July 22, 2019, ordered the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to suspend mayors and governors refusing to clear public roads and address traffic congestion in the country.

Metro Manila mayors recently accepted the challenge of the President and were given 60 days by the DILG to comply with the order to reclaim public roads for motorists.


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