Surigao City Demolition: Tension rises at market, city gov’t defers demolition of stalls beside market after vendors insist they have authority

Tension ran high Sunday at the Surigao City Public Market after traders resisted the local government’s move to demolish their stalls, all located within a public space near the market.

The traders – most of whom are of Maranao descent—barricaded their stalls and hanged posters that read “No Relocation, No Demolition!”

A team from the City Engineering Office – backed up by police and members of the Quick Action Response Team – was about to enforce a longstanding ordinance banning vendors from sidewalks, streets and other public spaces when they met defiance from the vendors. Members of the demolition team brought with them heavy equipment such as dump trucks, backhoe and firetrucks.

Cesar Concepcion, head of the Task Force Sidewalk, said they decided to defer the demolition to ease the tension, adding that some of the vendors, who were armed, threatened to fight back.
The vendors, Concepcion said, argued they had authority from the city council to sell goods at the market’s parking space.

Abdulmalik Sultan, chairman of Salam Traders Cooperative, said the local government should not consider them as sidewalk vendors. He admitted, however, that the area is a “parking space.”

Sultan said their group has almost 200 members, 54 of whom are located along Borromeo Street in front of the Public Market, the target for demolition and relocation by the city government.

Sultan claimed they are part of the market because the stalls are provided by the city government and the commercial spaces were provided long before the current administration took office.

Concepcion said the city plans to move the vendors to pantalan 2, and that the local government will continue to insist on its right to implement the anti-sidewalk ordinance. The stalls being occupied by the Salam Traders Cooperative, remains a parking space and should be free from obstruction.

But Sultan said they could not sell their products at the pantalan 2, pointing out that their goods are prone to corrosion “because there are mostly made of metals.”

“Who will buy our goods? This aside from the fact that business activity will stop after 12 noon because all motorbancas will leave at the port by that time,” Sultan said.

He also said pantalan 2 is not safe for vending because of “the presence of some bad elements.”
“Kami gani gikawatan sa merkado bisan naa mi duh aka gwardiya, samot na kaha didto sa pantalan nga daghan mga dautang elemento ug mangunguot,” Sultan added.

If the city government was serious in clearing the market area, Sultan wondered why flower shops and other stalls are being tolerated at the San Nicolas street, noting that “these are clearly located in sidewalks also.”

For the part of the city, Concepcion said they will give the vendors a chance to show the city council resolution that supposedly gave them authority to display their goods at the area.

“If they can’t show us, then the relocation must go on. There is no reason for them to stay at the said place because that is illegal,” Concepcion said. (Roel Catoto/The Agusan-Surigao Enquirer)


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