March 27, 2023

The ongoing evaluation of applicants who are currently occupying stalls at the Baguio public market is a welcome development that requires constant monitoring not only by those directly affected, but also the public.
The amnesty program for actual occupants of stalls at the market will give justice not only for the city government, but especially the public who will ultimately benefit from the initiative being done to end the unfair practices at the facility.
We refer to the sub-leasing, sale, and the use of a dummy by stallholders who originally signed a contract of lease with the city government for cheaper rentals.
For years, illegal practices have been tolerated, among which include stallholders who signed the contract with the city government renting out their assigned stalls to other parties at prices double or thrice the amount they are remitting to the city’s coffers.
Some have sold the stalls while others have inherited them as if these were theirs or their family’s properties.
It’s not only the city government that was and continues to be shortchanged in this setup. At the most, consumers suffer the consequences as they are the ones patronizing the products and services at the market.
A sublessor paying an expensive rent will recover their expenses through the prices of their wares or services. How else can merchants earn a living if not by collecting from their customers?
We hope the amnesty program, which now requires the actual occupants of the stalls to be prioritized in the bidding and award of the booths, will put an end to the unfair business practices at the public market for the benefit of the public who we expect to get their money’s worth through more competitive prices.
A system where only one party is progressing, like what is happening with the sale and sublea-sing of stalls at the public market, is not far from a society that tole-rates lack of justice and fairness.
The spot inspections being conducted by the Baguio City Market Authority to ensure the lessors occupying the stalls are the ones listed in its database and allowing those who claim to be outside the city or the country to show up after a given period is a laudable move and must be sustained even after the bidding process.
The amnesty program ended in April last year and the BCMA is currently screening the applications of close to 1,000 sublessors.
We hope the screening will be stringent to ensure the applicants are truly the actual occupants of the stalls being applied for. Otherwise, this initiative of fixing the unfair business practices at the market will be futile.
Before anything else, we also hope the city government will prioritize fixing this messy system over other undertakings at the Baguio public market, which has become one of the go-to areas for people from all walks of life, including tourists.