July 13, 2024

The Baguio City Council has passed a resolution creating a task force that will come up with guidelines on the operations of ambulant vendors in the city.

The proposed guidelines will address the plights of ambulant vendors in the city that are prevented from operating due to the non-issuance or non-renewal of their special permits.

The resolution was an offshoot of the forum in the city council last July 19 regarding the request of vendors selling taho, ice cream, and pastillas at the Lion’s Head for the renewal of their special permits.

According to Permits and Licensing Division head Allan Abayao, the affected vendors were given special permits at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, but, their permits lapsed in 2020. They were advised to apply for regular business permits to fully legalize their operations.

Members of the city council, however, stressed that some requirements are not applicable to these small-time vendors who do not conduct business in permanent stalls or designated areas. Councilor Arthur Allad-iw said these cannot be complied with by those who earn just enough to sustain their needs.

These requirements are barangay business clearance, locational clearance issued by the City Planning and Sustainable Development Office (CPSDO), sewerage and parks clearance issued by the City Environment and Parks Management, fire safety clearance issued by the Baguio Fire Station, health clearance issued by the City Health and Services Office, and building clearance issued by the City Buildings and Architecture Office.

Councilor Elmer Datuin proposed that ambulant vending in the city be regulated but not prohibited because, according to him, these vendors, just like big businesses, also have the right to benefit from the flourishing tourism in the city.

In a separate resolution, the city council urged the PLD to renew the special permits of these affected vendors.

Meanwhile, CPSDO representative Elias Aoanan said that the Lion’s Head is part of Kennon View Park and one reason why their office do not issue locational clearances to ambulant vendors is because all roads, sidewalks, and parks are “beyond the commerce of men.”

However, Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda said there is jurisprudence to show that if it is related to the use of function of the park, the business activity is allowed.

The city council passed another resolution requesting the City Legal Office to give its legal opinion on the phrase “….beyond the commerce of men.”

In a recent interview, Public Order and Safety Division Chief Enforcer Daryll Longid opposed the council’s move to legalize ambulant vending in the city, especially within parks.

Longid said legalizing the operations of ambulant vendors could open the floodgates and allow more people from outside the city to peddle their goods or products in public places. He said parks are already saturated by peddlers and that, as per their records, most ambulant vendors are not residents of the city.

In 2019, then councilor Philian Weygan-Allan authored a resolution halting the issuance of special permits to new applicants for ambulant vending in an effort to curb the increasing number of ambulant vendors in the city. However, the previous council has not favorably acted on the proposed resolution and returned it to Weygan-Allan in light of the concerns raised by the other council members. – Jordan G. Habbiling