January 29, 2023

If vendors had their way, a mall should never be part of the landscape of the Baguio City Public Market.
Vendors randomly interviewed by the Courier said they are all for the development of the market, but this should not involve construction of a high-rise building, nor undertaken by corporate developers.
The vendors said they prefer an open-air, old-school palengke, not the plan of the city government to build a seven-story where only a portion will be managed by the local government and the rest of the building will be managed by a private developer.
“Puro na mall sa paligid, tapos maglalagay ka pa sa palengke. Mas maganda kung ganito lang na open para dito mamimili ang mga tao ng mga pang-araw-araw na pangangailangan tapos sa mall ang pasyalan. Hindi ‘yung palengke nandito, tapos pati mall. Magdadagsaan ang mga tao,” said Mike Mascareñas, who operates a shoe repair shop along Kayang St.
Accessories vendor Rev de Guzman sees an advantage if the market is transformed into a more commercialized shopping center. She said the market will become cleaner and organized especially in terms of zoning and provision of utilities. However, she is not in favor of a corporate developer imposing its rules in the market, saying if the city government is serious in developing the area, it can if it wants to.
She also fears that turning the market into a commercial complex will make the lease of stalls and prices of commodities more expensive. “Sa palengke presyong pang-masa. Kapag may developer, magmamahal ang upa at mga panindida,” de Guzman said.
Other vendors fear they will be displaced once a developer takes over. Saan kami dadalhin kapag nag-umpisa nang magtayo?” asked shellfish vendor Nora Calimlim, a market vendor for over 20 years now.
Calimlim once belonged to a group of vendors that sued former mayors Bernardo Vergara and Mauricio Domogan and Uniwide where they questioned the legality of the ordinance that allowed development of the market through a build-operate-transfer scheme.
Vendors Edna Yambao and Danny de Sembrana, former president of the rice section, are both for the development of the market but they said this should be done by their group, in partnership with the city government of Baguio.
“Mismong taga-Baguio dapat ang mag-develop,” Yambao said. De Sembrana, on the other hand, said that while city government as owner of the market has the hand on how to manage and develop the market, he said they, as residents of Baguio, can assert they also have a stake in making sure the market should be preserved as a heritage site.
The Public Private Partnership for the People Initiative (P4) Selection Committee earlier voted to accept the original proponent status (OPS) of Robinsons Land Corporation (RLC). The other proponent is SM Prime Holdings.
Last week, Mayor Benjamin Magalong has tasked the Socio-Economic, Technical, Finance, and Legal and Institutional committees to submit their evaluation reports of the OPS of RLC and SM Prime.
The mayor said he will decide in two weeks whether or not to approve the committee’s recommendation.
Magalong has explained to reporters the city government needs to be careful in approving projects under P4 scheme since any action would set a precedent for other projects under such scheme. He said the city government has other major infrastructure projects to be covered under the P4 scheme.
He added it is the City Mayor’s Office who has the final say on proposal screened by the P4 Selection Committee. This means that the award of market development is not yet a done deal, contrary to claims by some quarters.
Earlier, P4 Chair and City Administrator Bonifacio dela Peña said RLC submitted incomplete documents but through secret balloting, the committee voted to accept RLC’s OPS. – Rimaliza A. Opiña

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