“Zero vending” to be strictly enforced in Manila’s streets – Mayor Estrada

MANILA — Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada said Thursday he is standing pat with his decision not to allow vendors along the city’s major roads, after more than 100 illegal vendors were driven off the stretch of MV delos Santos St. in Binondo.

Accompanied by members of Task Force Manila Cleanup, Estrada conducted another road-clearing operation Thursday morning, brushing aside the objections raised by vendors. A small group of protesters last Tuesday claimed that the government’s ‘zero vending’ policy will “kill” their livelihood.

The mayor said the policy will continue and will be strictly enforced together with the city-wide cleanup drive as part of his continuing urban renewal program to bring back what he termed as the “the old glory and beauty” of Manila.

“No dice. Not a chance,” he said of the protesters’ appeal that they be allowed again to operate along the main roads.

“We cannot give in to their demands and compromise the safety and convenience of the thousands of pedestrians, motorists and commuters who brave traffic jams and chaos in the streets almost every day,” Estrada added.

Meanwhile, Task Force chief Che Borromeo said traffic flow in the streets have been severely affected by the presence of illegal vendors.

“Hindi sila sumusunod. Talagang nao-okupahan na nila halos ang malaking bahagi ng kalsada (The illegal vendors do not follow the mayor’s directive and continue to occupy a huge portion of the street),” Borromeo said.

Noting that he doubts the legitimacy of the vendors’ group that protested Tuesday in front of City Hall, Borromeo said militant groups who are merely riding on the issue, could be behind the protesters.

He said such groups are even using vagrants along Roxas Blvd. to pose as vendors.

Without giving names, Borromeo recounted that last month, a group tried to recruit vendors in Quiapo, Blumentritt and Divisoria to join the protests but no one participated.

He said the city government still allows vendors to operate in the side streets, provided they do not block traffic, they keep the area clean and they secure authorization from the Bureau of Permits at the City Hall.

He however added that road-clearing operations will continue at the instruction of the mayor.

The city government has recently cleared Divisoria, Blumentritt Road, the Sta. Cruz-Rizal Ave. area, Binondo, and Quiapo, driving away more than 3,000 illegal vendors and reducing traffic congestion in the city’s major thoroughfares. Lily Ramos/PNA/northboundasia.com