The Baguio City Council, during an executive-legislative meeting, requested the city government’s executive department and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to look into the concerns of vendors and other individuals in the city affected by the ongoing road clearing operations.
The council’s request stemmed from the concern raised by vendors occupying a two-meter-wide sidewalk beside a national road at Country Club Village Barangay. The talipapa vendors were issued a notice of violation by the City Engineering Office (CEO) pursuant to the road clearing directive of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
The vendors sought the help of the council, however, Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan said that the decision whether to allow these vendors to stay and continue their business operation at the said area is not within the ambit of the legislative body.
Olowan said the executive department and the DPWH should come up with a plan of action that will address the concerns of residents in the city that are affected by the road clearing operations.
The city council earlier stressed that the displacement of vendors due to the implementation of anti-obstruction laws is a city-wide issue, affecting all barangays in the city.
Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda cautioned that heeding the plea of the vendors at the Country Club Village Barangay to occupy a space within the road-right-of-way will set a precedent to other individuals with a similar case.
Tabanda suggested that the city government, while pursuing its mandate on anti-road obstruction, may also explore the prospect of looking for relocation areas for the affected vendors.
Meanwhile, Olowan called for consistency in the implementation of the presidential directive to clear roads of illegal obstructions, mentioning that there are various easements and sidewalks in other parts of the city that are encroached into by big structures.
Michael Jan Ostrea, a lawyer of the DPWH-CAR, explained that the DPWH undertakes its road-clearing activities seriously and does not give exemption to any violators. –Jordan G. Habbiling