Carvajal: Dictating havoc on small people’s lives

Carvajal: Dictating havoc on small people’s lives

When two people get off on the wrong foot, the sure way of truing up their conflicted relationship is to start over again on the right foot. Similarly, when a government unit gets a project off on the wrong foot, the way to correct its ill effects on stakeholders is to walk back and start it right.

Cebu City blames the chaos that now reigns in Carbon on hard-headed small ambulant vendors. The truth, however, is that Carbon Public Market’s development into a world-class commercial and tourist hub got off on the wrong foot. The fatal misstep was Cebu City’s abject failure to consult Carbon market’s stakeholders -- not only regular stall holders but also small ambulant alcabala-paying vendors and the buying public.

Accordingly, the solution is to restart it right by getting all the stakeholders in on the planning of the project. Note that after learning of the project (only much later at the laying of the cornerstone), a significant group of small ambulant vendors came up with a less expensive and mutually beneficial (to City, vendors and public) modernization-without-privatization proposal of their own. But the high and mighty denizens of City Hall would have none of it.

Unless, however, the vendors win their case in court against the City, there is scant hope for Carbon’s development to be restarted on the right foot. Like the rest of the country, Cebu City is run by an elite group of businessmen-politicians who brook no opposition, used as they are to getting things done their way.

The handing over of Carbon’s management and financial control to a private enterprise without consulting the stakeholders is hands down an act of injustice to small people who are the majority. But since in this country the elite lord it over the majority, nothing short of a miracle can stop Cebu City from bullying vendors into accepting Carbon’s privatization.

(Nothing, when neither religious nor civic groups are showing any concern for the breach of public trust that is happening in Carbon.)

In our elitist democracy, elected officials never admit to mistakes. It is culturally- ingrained in them to dictate life’s terms on people without consultation. Hence, Mayor Rama and his councilors cannot be expected to admit that they made a terrible mistake in entering into a joint venture agreement (JVA) without consulting those whose lives might be, and are now, disastrously affected by it.

A country ruled by a few is as democratic as black is white. Yet, despite being an oxymoron, elitist democracy is no paper moon in the country. In Cebu City it is dictating havoc on small people’s lives.

But this is not surrender. This is a reminder that it will take some aggressive and united doing to reverse our elitist democracy. Until then, city councilors will continue to start their regular sessions with the Our Father even if neither God’s nor the people’s but their will alone is done.


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