MANILA, Philippines — Elizabeth Sanchez and her former elementary school classmate whom they call “Mother” had been selling cigarettes and clothes for almost 30 years along Ilaya Street in Divisoria to feed their families.
Although both women were in their 60s already, they said that they would continue to work as long as their bodies could.
They were among a group of street vendors on Monday who went to the Manila City Hall to try to have a conversation with Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso who barred them from selling their wares at Ilaya Street indefinitely.
After being dismayed to see piles of trash spread throughout the area during a surprise inspection last November 11, Domagoso enforced the indefinite ban on selling at Ilaya.
But the mayor accordingly refused to meet the displaced vendors, saying that for the day he had a full schedule.
Domagoso added that the city government is currently rehabilitating Ilaya Street by paving the road and repairing the tangled cable wires from posts that, according to him, were used by the vendors for their products as temporary clotheslines.
Nevertheless, the vendors reported that the garbage piles left on the street were mostly either from stall owners or pedestrians at the nearby Tutuban Shopping Center.
They begged Domagoso to let them sell their goods instead at Recto Avenue’s sidewalk but the mayor again told them the busy road is considered as among the “non-negotiable” places where selling is prohibited.
“Where will pedestrians pass? In the middle of the street (and) in front of jeepneys and trucks speeding through the road? That is unfair,” the mayor said.
Although the vendors acknowledged that by selling in forbidden areas some of them may have breached their agreement with the local government, they called on Domagoso to consider their plight, claiming he was once needy too like them.
“You (Mayor Moreno) know how it feels to be hungry, to have stomach pains because you no longer have anything to eat. You should understand that because you experienced poverty,” one of them said.
“We do not blame you, but you should not punish all of us because of the mistake of one person. It’s almost Christmas, have mercy on us.” (Chris Figueroa/IAMIGO/CNS)