October 1, 2023

Vendors at the Baguio City public market have renewed their opposition to the conduct of market encounters, trade fairs, and other business activities within roads and parks in the city in light of the ongoing Sunday market fair at Session Road and use of city parks and other roads for market encounters.

The Session Road Sunday market started in December 2020 to showcase and support products of local farmers and entrepreneurs, particularly those who had to close businesses due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and allow them to recover. The activity entails closure of the whole stretch of the road every Sunday temporarily and is sanctioned by an executive order issued by the mayor.

Pending at the city council is a proposal seeking to institutionalize this activity also in celebration of various festivals.

In last week’s city council session, public market block leaders represented by Atty. Zosimo Abratique voiced their continuing opposition for such activity, which, they said, is giving undue advantage to its participants and putting those at the public market, who duly pay taxes, at the losing end.

Abratique, Baguio Market Vendors Association president, said they do not object the selling and providing of a venue for trade fairs and market encounters per se, especially so since at this time it is one way of helping businesses affected by the quarantine periods since March 2020. 

However, they oppose the conduct of such activities within streets and parks, and public conveyances close to the market because it creates competition leaving them at the public market unable to sell their wares.

He pointed out the existence of an ordinance that disallows trade fairs in public places, but there have been exemptions which they have been opposing even before the pandemic.

“We already have a market, why another market encounter in Session Road? The opposition is not really on the activity, but the venue of the activity like the streets and parks. For one, we should conduct activities in the proper places. Market or business activities should be in the public market, parks should be for parks, and streets should be used as streets,” said Abratique said.

He added when these activities are conducted especially during peak season near the city market, there would be unfair competition. “Maybe the activities may be held somewhere else. If for example we hold this at Malcolm Square, this is giving undue advantage to these businessmen,” Abratique said.

On the other hand, representatives of sectors that have been joining the Session Road Sunday market said the activity gives them the opportunity to have income since the onset of the quarantine period, and it is only one day compared to the seven days the market vendors have to sell their goods.  

They added it is never their intention to compete with the market vendors. Some of them sell processed foods, and all they purchase from the market all the ingredients that they use, which means if they sell much in Session Road, vendors at the public market are also earning.

“All of us as we know needed to recuperate. At the very onset of the quarantine period in March 2020 we were forced to close, with a heavy heart we followed. Some of the market vendors were actually allowed to still operate while all of us did not have any source of income. While some are selling their goods we were at our home worrying about what lies for us in the future,” a representative joining the Sunday market said.

They added the Sunday activity does not only help them small businesses but also those in the barangays who asked to sell their products for them such as crops they harvest from their yards and other products not sold in the city market. They also employ workers hired to help in the stalls so that they get remuneration to at least help them get by maybe even for just one or two days.

Since December 2020 to this month, a total of 2,333 stalls were accommodated during Sundays with a total sales of P25,627,859.75. Each participant pays for a special permit (P250 for ordinary stall and P650 for al fresco). They also pay rental for the use of tents to a private entity, and the amount depends on its size.

City council members recognized the concerns of both groups and assured them they will find a balance or win-win solution to resolve the issue.

The comments, including those made through the official social media account of the sanggunian, will be considered inputs and part of the public hearing being conducted by the committee on trade, market, and agriculture chaired by Councilor Phillian Allan, who was also tasked to sit down with the City Mayor’s Office for further discussions. – Hanna C. Lacsamana