April 18, 2024

The city council will help in polishing guidelines in the award of stalls for vendors at blocks 3 and 4 of the Baguio City Public Market who were displaced by a fire in March.

The decision was reached in the Nov. 13 session of the city council after several vendors sought assistance from them, alleging the Baguio City Market Authority’s (BCMA) unwarranted issuance of notices of violation because of their absence in the stalls when inspected.

Allegations also surfaced about the BCMA giving undue favors to some tenants by allowing them to rent a bigger space, contrary to the Market Code that one vendor can only rent a single space at the market.

The BCMA has been issuing notices of violation to some vendors after inspection showed that they have violated Section 160 of the Tax Ordinance that states tenants are required to be physically present in their rented stalls. 

Taking the cudgels for the vendors, the city council said the same provision of the ordinance that the BCMA is citing allows tenants to hire a helper as some cannot be present at their stalls all the time. The council said the BCMA should investigate if they suspect that a helper could be sublessor, instead of citing the tenants of violation of Section 160 and threatening them of cancellation of their lease contract.

Some members of the council also said that with the 1.2 meter x 1 meter sizes of stalls, only one person can be accommodated, hence the constant presence of helpers, instead of the tenant. 

In the council’s session, Market Superintendent Cesar Emilio and City Treasurer Alex Cabarrubias maintained the BCMA observed due process when they issued notices of violation.

Cabarrubias said the BCMA is merely implementing the ordinance and its implementing rules and guidelines, which requires the physical presence of the tenant to tend to the stall. If the tenant hires a helper, the tenant should be able to show proof of employer-employee relationship such as a contract. In case a tenant cannot be physically present because circumstances such as illness or the need to travel outside Baguio or overseas, a tenant is required to file a leave of absence to the BCMA. The maximum leave is six months.

Cabarrubias and Emilio also denied allegations the BCMA is giving favor to some vendors by allowing them to choose a slot of where to sell. They said all slots were awarded through raffle.

Emilio said the zoning resulted in some vendors getting transferred to another spot, instead of the area where they used to sell, but no one was displaced as claimed. He added, some vendors were allowed to rent the adjacent stall temporarily pending auction or adjudication of a vacated slot.

The city government, through the BCMA, is currently clearing the market of illegal practices such as the subleasing, selling, and mortgaging of stalls. This however resulted in some vendors questioning the policies employed by the BCMA saying the body is acting as the lawyer, judge, and executioner at the same time.

To finally settle the issues, Cabarrubias and Emilio have agreed to submit their inputs to the council for refining of the guidelines on the rent and use of stalls. – Rimaliza A. Opiña