By Jamie Rose Aberia
Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada has ordered an inquiry into the reported “mafia” or organized syndicate allegedly monopolizing the operation of the newly modernized Quinta Market in Quiapo.
While saying such rumors are absurd, Estrada said he still wanted to get to the bottom of this allegation to address the concerns raised by several vendors applying for registration at the recently reopened public market.
“True or not, we have to take a look into those allegations. I will never allow anyone or any group to run our Quinta Market for their own personal benefit. Walang palakasan dito,” the Manila mayor pointed out.
The allegations came from United Vendors Alliance (UVA), led by one Jerome Pagunson, which has been raising issues against the city government and Quinta Market, according to the 289-member Quinta Market Vendors Association Cooperative Development.
Pagunson had spoken in a TV report alleging that some kind of “mafia” is controlling Quinta Market, giving away multiple stalls to anyone who could pay extra fees.
“Nagkaroon po ng monopolyo sa Quinta Market pagtapos nung renovation (There was a monopoly at Quinta Market after the renovation),” Pagunson said, adding that this caused several vendors to be displaced, forcing them to ply their goods in the sidewalks instead.
He explained that under the Market Code of the city, no vendor/stallholder should be given more than one stall in any of the local public markets. “Sa nangyari, ang isang pamilya nagmamay-ari ng 5 hanggang 7 stalls (As a result, one family owns 5 to 7 stalls).”
Estrada designated Market Administration Office chief Annie Balboa to lead the investigation.
During a recent public hearing at the city hall led by the committee on market, hawkers, and slaughterhouses chaired by Councilor Joel Par, several vendors and stallholders complained that some of their colleagues were given more than one stall at the Quinta Market, a violation of the city’s Market Code.
Estrada said there were reports that only 26 families managed to take control of 146 stalls when the law mandates that only one stall should be given per family/vendor; those 26 families were even non-Manila residents.
In a memorandum, Balboa tasked Quinta Market supervisor Marjorie Yebra to coordinate with the market developer, Marketlife Management and Leasing Corp., to verify these allegations of stallholders managing multiple stalls.
“We can’t say yet if this so-called ‘mafia’ at the Quinta Market is true. Pinaiimbestigahan na ni Mayor ‘to, e (the mayor is having this investigated),” Balboa said.
Located on Carlos Palanca Street near the Pasig River, the old Quinta Market has been a popular landmark in Quiapo but its dilapidated state prompted the city government to have it renovated and modernized.