City Legal Office: Night market operates without official MOA

Night-Market
Night-MarketPhoto by LPL

A GROUP of vendors has no memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Cebu City Government to operate the night market.

This was the finding of the City Legal Office (CLO), which had been requested by the council to produce a legal opinion regarding the authority of the Cebu Coalition of United Vendors Association (CCUVA) to oversee the night market.

The CLO has requested the City Council to formulate guidelines for the night market operations.

In Resolution 16 dated Oct. 16, 2023, the council said the night market, being a project of the Cebu City Government, should be managed by the Cebu City Market Authority. This arrangement could only be altered if a specific law or agreement delegates the operation to a private organization or association.

The CLO, in its legal opinion dated Nov. 24, repeated its earlier statement that it does not have any records of an MOA or any contracts made by the City, but says its finding does not officially confirm the non-existence of a MOA between the City and CCUVA.

No market program

However, the CLO states that the City has no “established night market program, saying that the City could not enter into an agreement because the public roads on which the market operates cannot be subject to an agreement since these roads are in the public domain and are outside the “commerce of man.”

Despite the absence of a MOA, the CLO said there were requests from CCUVA to the City Government to allow the temporary operation and management of a night market. These were approved by Mayor Michael Rama.

Thus, “Kasadya sa Downtown” was established as a seasonal activity.

The conduct of the night market aligns with the City’s Downtown Revitalization Program. The Garbo Asenso Sumbanan Alyansa (Gasa), a group of sidewalk vendors in Cebu City, is also involved in the night market program.

The Gasa board composed of representatives from various departments and offices under the Office of the Mayor, endorsed the night market activity through Board Resolution 3, series of 2022, dated Oct. 19, 2022.

On Dec. 28, 2022, CCUVA sought an extension for the Colon Night Market activity. Both City Administrator Collin Rosell and Cebu City Transportation Office head Raquel Arce recommended the extension, which Rama granted.

The CLO said the mayor’s approval of CCUVA’s request to run a temporary night market and the subsequent closure of the road for this purpose by the City Council were valid exercises of the mayor’s powers in line with the Local Government Code.

Following the definition of a public market, the CLO assumed that the night market of Cebu City is considered as a private market, operating within the territorial jurisdiction of the City, and must abide by the provisions of the market code.

Section 3 of City Ordinance 2486, also known as Cebu City Market Code of 2017, states “this Code shall apply to and govern the administration and operation of government-owned and operated markets of any kind and classification in Cebu City and the imposition and collection of market rentals, fees, penalties, and other charges for the occupancy of any part thereof.”

Pesquera’s report

City Councilor Jocelyn Pesquera, in an earlier report, said that when the night market began, CCUVA was just one of several organizations tapped by the organizing committee, adding that it was the Cebu City Tourism Commission that initiated the night market on Colon St. in 2022, not the CCUVA.

Pesquera said no fees were collected from vendors, with each organization managing its own members.

She further said that CCUVA’s role was not as an organizer but as one of the groups invited to participate in the market.

CCUVA president Maria Pino, organizer of the Colon night market, told SunStar Cebu that the night market wasn’t a Cebu City Government project. She said that it was the vendors who proposed the idea to the City Government, suggesting that setting up stalls on Colon St. at night would benefit them.

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