Our time, this time

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By Andy H. Hagad

Bottom Line

Monday, January 6, 2014


I’M GLAD to hear that Mayor Monico Puentevella has ordered the clean-up of the City’s public areas from illegal vendors. Their presence has been tolerated by past administrations for too long, as a result of which they have proliferated into an unruly and unregulated horde.

Mayor Newks did right to call both the legally-operating and the illegal vendors to a dialogue before implementing the clearing operation. As far as I can recall, no other chief executive of Bacolod City personally took the bull by the horns the way he just did. Past attempts to rid the streets of vendors were delegated to the councilors or to the enforcement officers, both of whom do not possess the level of authority and moral suasion that a city mayor has.

Vendors in Bacolod are divided into two general sectors: the legal ones who operate with a business permit and who pay taxes; and the illegals who don’t.

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The illegals we find everywhere. They clog places intended for vehicles and pedestrians with their stores-on-wheels, moving from one place of the city to another, following the flow of the pedestrian traffic. They have no permits to operate and pay no taxes. As far as the local government unit is concerned, they are a liability. If they have been allowed to proliferate, it was only because some politicians found their cooperation politically advantageous.

There is a two-way relationship between the legitimate vendors and the local government. Both make money from the relationship, at the same time that the public gains from their cooperative effort. With the illegal vendors the benefit is one-way, only in their favor. Even if for that reason alone, they should be stopped from operating.

Government need not be heartless in sweeping the illegals from our streets. They can legitimize. They can apply for and be granted business permits. Once they submit to the jurisdiction of government they are easily subjected to the City’s regulation and control. Government will earn from the fees and taxes that they will pay, money that will be plowed back for the benefit of the general public.

This solution allows our city officials to separate the grain from the chaff. The vendors who refuse to apply for a business permit are the ones we do not need. They are the ones who clog up our streets and our sidewalks, and make life miserable for the rest of us. Properly identified, they will be the ones denied the privilege of doing business on January 13.

The illegal vendors have had their hey-day. It’s time we had ours.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on January 06, 2014.

Opinion

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