Vendors Association questions Notice to Vacate issued by CLO

City Legal Officer Romeo Carlos Ting, Jr.
City Legal Officer Romeo Carlos Ting, Jr.

" The City Government of Bacolod has no contract with the Manokan Vendors Association."

This was stressed by City Legal Officer Romeo Carlos Ting Jr. on Monday, June 24, after Atty. Jose Max Ortiz, legal counsel of Manokan Vendors Association, questioned the notice to vacate issued by the City Legal Office (CLO) to the vendors on June 3, 2024, and the Notice of Willingness to Transfer to the site provided by SM Prime Holdings issued on June 14.

Ting said they received a letter from Ortiz on June 20, questioning the notice to vacate issued by the CLO.

In his letter addressed to Ting, Ortiz said his client-stall owners have subsisting lease agreements for their respective stalls with business permits to operate duly issued by the City of Bacolod until December 31, 2024, by City Ordinance No. 16, Series of 1983 which you are unaware of.

" My client-stall owners have no lease agreement or transaction whatsoever with SM Prime Holdings, Inc. What is your legal basis for your Notices to Vacate and Transfer which, in effect, cancel/rescind the subsisting lease agreements between my client-stallowners and the City of Bacolod considering that you have not even furnished any of them copies of the Lease Agreement between the City of Bacolod and SM Prime Holdings; you also have not furnished any of them copies of the alleged Local Market Committee Resolution referred to in your letter dated June 14, 2024," he said.

He added that media reports of a Lease Agreement for 40 years entered into by the City of Bacolod and SM Prime Holdings including the Manokan Country (which is an extension of the Bacolod City Central Market) is contrary to law and City Ordinance No. 16, Series of 1983.

" Your notices are therefore baseless and unfounded, contrary to law for being impairment of subsisting lease agreements and violative of City Ordinance No. 16, Series of 1983 for which you as Legal Officer and the responsible officers of the City of Bacolod could be held administratively, civilly and criminally liable," Ortiz said.

In fine, he said unless the city properly secures a court order ejecting his client-stall owners from their present stalls (where they have a subsisting lease agreement and business permits duly issued by the City of Bacolod) by City Ordinance No. 16, Series of 1983, my client-stall owners have opted to remain in place until further notice.

On June 4, CLO served the notice to vacate to 26 tenants and they were given until July 5 to vacate their stalls and occupy their temporary space at the terminal hub of  SM City for the construction of the Monakan Country building.

Of 26 tenants, two of the tenants refused to receive the demand letter or notice to vacate.

Ting said Ortiz should state the individual names of his clients since the city has no contract with the Manokan Vendors Association.

" It's an individual lease of their stalls and it's not an association," he said.

On the part of the contract, he added that the tenants had not executed another contract of renewal since the time of former Mayor Monico Puentevella.

Ting noted that the tenants claimed that they had an existing contract with the city until December 31, 2024.

" But, they failed to show their proof that they have a subsisting contract with the city government," Ting said

He said all the contracts of the tenants had already expired 20 years ago which is renewable every two years.

" The city did not issue any second notices to the vendors and it's final that
they should vacate on July 5," he added.

If they refuse to vacate, Ting said that they will execute a forced eviction in the area.

On October 20, 2023, the city government of Bacolod signed a contract agreement with SM Prime to redevelop the iconic Manokan Country.

SM Prime has already turned over P131.89 million to the city government for the redevelopment of Manokan Country.

The P131.89 million is seven years of advance rental payments for Manokan Country under the 40-year lease agreement with the city at an annual rental fee of P21.26 million, subject to a five percent escalation rate every three years./MAP

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