Council okays OCSWD trade fair

THE Baguio City Council set aside the objections of market vendors and approved the conduct of a month-long trade fair by the Office of the City Social Welfare and Development starting March 23.

The trade fair is aimed at generating at least P2 million in revenues to finance livelihood projects as part of the department’s drug rehabilitation program, said OCSWD officer Betty Fangasan.

Market vendors, however, objected to the fair because it would dent their sales, which have already been affected by the trade fair held as part of the Baguio Flower Festival.

Despite the objection, the committee on market trade and commerce approved the trade fair and endorsed this to the plenary. In a special session last week, the council also approved the event.

“Let's take the cue from His Excellency President Rodrigo R. Duterte in his relentless fight against drugs. It is also a gargantuan task in the city of Baguio as the magnitude of the problem requires immediate attention. The LGU of Baguio is doing its best to address the problem,” Yangot said.

Yangot said the OCSWD has launched a massive campaign to address the root cause and has come up with effective programs to address the concerns of Persons with Substance Use Disorder (PSUD).

“No money was allotted for the OCSWD for its drug-related programs. So we must heed the call,” Yangot said.

There will be at least 120 stalls on both lanes of Lake Drive in Burnham Park measuring 2x3 meters with the City Treasurer’s Office checking compliance and payment of fees.

Some 500 market vendors earlier filed their opposition to the trade fair.

Market vendor Reggie Gonzales said the trade fair would deprive around 2,000 merchants in the market of as much as 70 percent of their expected sales.

Gonzales said they were hoping to generate a profit during summer, after their sales were also affected by the Baguio Flower Festival.

“The recently concluded Panagbenga Market Encounter has drastically affected our sales. This time of the year should be our opportunity to offset the lean season,” added the petition.

Jackie Alabat, Baguio Market Vendors Association treasurer and president of the Sari Sari section, said they were hoping that the council would either stop the trade fair or put it in a place where there will be no direct competition with market vendors.

Alabat said products sold at the trade fair are the same as those sold in the market, making tourists and locals prefer to buy from the area rather than exploring the market area.

“We have a trade fair ordinance which is observed in the exception rather than to the letter of ordinance. While the objective of the proposed trade fair is for the drug abuse campaign and therefore a laudable part of government initiative and policies the same could be addressed by this August body by simply appropriating required funding,” the vendors said.

But Yangot said the conduct of the trade fair is the fastest way to raise funds.

“I challenge those who are critical of the OCSWD program to produce P2 million. If they can produce, I am willing to initiate the withdrawal of the approval of the trade fair,” added Yangot.

The vendors said the city council should instead appropriate the required funds.

The documentation for the trade fair has been sent to Mayor Mauricio Domogan for his approval and signature.
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