Vendors get temporary respite from fines

STALL owners at the Mandaue City Public Market continued to put their sold goods in plastic bags yesterday, an offense that would have gotten them a P500-fine under a city ordinance.

But because some establishments and vendors are still not aware of the Plastic Bag Prohibition Ordinance passed in 2010 yet, the Mandaue City Government is postponing the issuance of notices of violation until this Monday, said lawyer Elaine Bathan.

Bathan, chief of staff of Mayor Gabriel Luis Quisumbing, said that this week, the City will focus on informing establishment owners and the public about the prohibition and the alternative food packaging allowed by law.

“The full implementation will definitely begin next week, meaning we will start to deploy our team already to monitor establishments that do not comply with the ordinance,” she said.

Appeals

Bathan said the City has received appeals and requests from business owners for exemption or to be given more time to comply.

“But that’s not the reason we are putting off the penalties. We just need to continue with the information dissemination… By next week, no one is excused from complying… The plastic ban will be applied to all establishments, whether big or small,” she said.

Bathan warned that establishments or retailers who do not comply will be issued a notice of non-compliance starting on Monday.

“There will be no fines yet next week, but that will be the first and final warning on their part. On their second offense, we will already enforce the penalty clause of the ordinance without prejudice to the necessary consequence for the violation of other ordinances, which could even include revocation of the business permit and the closure of the establishment,” she said.

Quisumbing ordered the strict and full implementation of the ordinance after the flooding last July 1, which left hundreds stranded on the road.

The city’s waterways are clogged mostly by plastic products, causing rivers and creeks to overflow.

At the city’s main public market yesterday, some stall owners and consumers asked city officials to amend the ordinance and reconsider the prohibition.

Suggestion

Instead of prohibiting retailers and business establishments from using plastic for packaging items and goods, they asked the City to target end users and apprehend those who throw plastic products in waterways.

“The City should discipline residents on the proper disposal of plastic. If the objective is to prevent flooding, I think that is a more effective approach, rather than banning the use of plastic in the markets,” Jocelyn Armero said in Cebuano.

Amero goes to the Mandaue Public Market every day to buy goods for her eatery business.

Armero said she and her husband plan to bring food containers when buying meat and fish, and a basket or cloth bag for their vegetables.

In her eatery, she will also request customers to bring containers when buying food for take-out.

At the market’s meat section, Era Duallo is worried she will lose her customers because of the ban on plastics.

She said most of their buyers are from Lapu-Lapu City, Consolacion and Liloan and with the plastic ban in effect in Mandaue, they might opt to go to markets that are closer to their homes.

Alternative

She agreed with Armero that the City should focus on the proper disposal of plastic products.

“It should not make the lives of vendors difficult. The City should concentrate on the people who use and discard plastic because plastic does not walk to the waterways on its own,” Duallo said in Cebuano.

So that the compliance of the ordinance will be easier, City Market Administrator Musoline Suliva advised market goers to bring reusable bags, net bags, baskets or ice boxes that can hold meat, fish and other goods.

The ordinance requires all stores, shops, eating places, food vendors and eateries to provide their customers only with paper bags, cloth bags and other recyclable or reusable bags.

It prohibits the distribution of disposable plastic bags and Styrofoam.

Any violation of the ordinance will subject the store owner or vendor to a fine of not more than P500 or imprisonment of not more than five days, or both.

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