SP to Apalit execs, vendors group: Set aside personal, political interests on public market issue

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – The Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) urged local officials of Apalit town and public market vendors association to set aside personal and political interests on the proposed transfer of 78 year-old public market in a new site.

This was gleaned during the joint committee public hearing on the petition filed by the market vendors opposing Apalit Municipal Ordinance No. 22, series of 2016 to 2019 the other day held at the SP session hall, Capitol Compound, here.

The ordinance entitled, “An Ordinance Establishing a New Public Market in a New Site in the Municipality of Apalit, Pampanga,” talked about creating a new, modernized, accessible and environmentally safe public market which shall meet the growing demands of the public consumers, provide a wider scope of business opportunities, and to ease the traffic congestion along the national and provincial roads.

The hearing was led by Board Members Ananias “Jun” Canlas Jr. of Third District, Committee Chairman on Justice, Human Rights and Good Government, Anthony “Ton” Joseph Torres of Second District, Committee on Trade, Industry and Commerce, Fourth District’s Nelson Calara, Committee on Senior Citizen and Disabled Person’s Affairs and Pol Balingit, Committee on Labor and Employment.

The event was also attended by Apalit Mayor Peter Nucom, Vice Mayor Augusto “Gus” Manlapaz, municipal councilors and around 74 Apalit public market stall owners.

According to Elvigia Balboa, Public Market Association President, the ordinance was oppressive and will only benefit the wealthy and powerful people.

Vice Mayor Manlapaz for his part said the ordinance is legal but he has marked his reservation on some parts of the said ordinance.

However, the provincial board members who said that since the ordinance is legal, the interest of the various publics for the progress of the town must prevail over the personal and political interest of the few.

Board Member Torres said that the public market is the window or the image of the town.

According to the Municipality of Apalit’s written statement, the public market which was built in 1940 was one of the remaining few public markets in the country that has no parking space and cannot cater the continuously growing population of the town.

However, it was stated to the written statement of the stall owners who attended the meeting to oppose the Municipal Ordinance No. 22 (series of 2016-2019), the incumbent officials think of themselves as “better” compared to the past administrations who failed to have a major improvement to Apalit Public Market which was built back in 1940.

They also suggest to build the public market to a vertical improvement rather than relocating it, it was also stated that the heavy traffic jam in front of the public market was caused by high volume of vehicles that passes along the Mac Arthur Highway where the market was located.

On the other hand, the Municipality of Apalit’s written statement also said that the number of stalls could no longer be increased because there is no room for expansion and the alleys were slippery and stinky as the market drainages were no longer sufficient to accommodate liquid waste materials despite frequent cleaning.

They also said that the market’s interior was dark and narrow that served as a quick hiding place for criminal elements and the structural design was outdated, dilapidated and rusty.

Meanwhile, the stall owners said that the absence of health and sanitation facilities was not their negligence, they also claimed that the officials might already had an agreement to the group of people who would provide fund for the relocation of the public market and building of the pasalubong center.

In their given statement, they fear the public market which might be done through a Build-Operate-Transfer scheme would be operated by some private sector for 50 years and the rental fee was too high for them to afford, they also added that the relocating area for the new public market was prone to flooding and the said ordinance did not go to due process for not entertaining those who opposed it.

Meanwhile, the statement of the municipality said that the establishment of the new public market would alleviate the quality of living and more area for parking and expansions for parks, public assembly, public transport terminal, police sub-station and emergency medical or health center.

It was also added that the allegation to transfer and construction of the public market would entail to huge capital overlay and result to higher fees and that the market would be operated by a private business proponent for 50 years was unfounded and mere speculations.

They said that the construction would entail meticulous compliance with the requirements of applicable laws like the Build-Operate-Transfer and Public-Private Partnership laws and the legitimate vendors shall have stalls in the new site under their existing term of lease and rental fees until the expiration of their contracts.

The hearing ended at around 1:30PM and the participating board members emphasized that the relocation of the new public market was for the interests and benefit of everyone and for the improvement of the town. –Leslie Anne Mahusay/PIO