Editorial: What about the workers?

THE case of Vic Enterprises in Barangay Mabolo is one instance where if Cebu City Hall wants to find fault, it easily can. Or if government targets a firm and looks for reasons to pin it down, it can pin that firm down. This is because businesses are not perfect, they commit violations at one time or another.

The city’s demolition team with the “kilometric” name Prevention, Restoration, Order, Beautification Enhancement (Probe) headed by the resurrected Raquel Arce, served the closure order issued by Mayor Tomas Osmeña on Vic Enterprises for various violations including lack of business permits, breaches in traffic rules by its delivery trucks and other vehicles, and even smoke belching.

Some of those violations are being committed by other establishments in the city, as well, but for one reason or another, the mayor has singled out Vic Enterprises, something that the firm will have to endure, much like in the cases of Banco de Oro and Rico’s Lechon. One lesson there is that business establishments, especially those whose owners are not in good graces with the mayor, should straighten out their acts before they become targets as well.

But it’s not that Vic Enterprises is fighting City Hall. It’s owner, Vicente Ongchanhoi, seems to be willing to talk it out with the mayor and the firm has been adopting mitigating measures. But the mayor refused to ease on his hard stance, which is not wrong. You violate the law, you are punished for it. Yet other considerations may come into play, like the welfare of the firm’s workers.

Vic Enterprises has 500 employees who will lose their livelihood for the duration that the firm is closed. Unlike Ongchanhoi, who has money to tide him over difficult times, his workers will find it hard to do so, especially those with families to feed. The earlier that normalcy returns in the firm’s operation, the better, more so because uncertainty is adding to their worries.

This is something that the firm may have to work on primarily but which the mayor should also reciprocate by easing his hardline stance a bit. There should be other ways to solve the problem without sacrificing the welfare of the employees.

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