The infamous Silangan Market at the Municipality of Mamburao will be closed down on Friday after Mayor Lyn Tria has ran out of patience on vendors’ failure to honor previous agreements to voluntarily vacate the place.
The saga of Silangan Market will finally have its conclusion comes Friday, January 10, following Mayor Lyn Tria’s marching order to vendors to officially terminate the conduct of any form of commerce and trade in the area.
Located in Brgy. Payompon, the so-called Silangan Market was once bustling and crowded with herds of vendors. In particular, the left side of Viana Road was heavily crowded with meat, fish, and vegetable vendors. They have gone as far as occupying one lane of the road, denying pedestrians and vehicles their right of way and the right to comfortably enjoy public thoroughfare.
In October 2019, implemented by Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), President Rodrigo Duterte, during his 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA), ordered the local government units to clear all roads, be it national, municipal or barangay, from obstructions and illegal construction, particularly those that have already encroached the side walks and pathways intended for public use.
DILG’s Memorandum Circular 121, Series of 2019, issued July 29 or barely two months after 2019 Elections, gave local government units some legal whipping muscles to erstwhile order vendors to leave the premises.
In addition to President Duterte’s order, adding salt to the injury is Occidental Mindoro National High School’s (OMNHS) request filed at the office of Brgy. Payompon Chairman Lorena Umali to take action to catechize vendors to clear the sidewalk of Viana Road for students’ and pedestrians’ use.
Days leading to September 29 deadline of President Duterte’s order and 60 days since the issuance of said Memorandum Circular, vendor left the area for good.
Some vendors at the other side of the road, or those referred to as “nasa itaas” however ignored the order on the belief that they have rights over the land area pending decision on a case they filed in Court as per land ownership.
Temporary Market At Grand Terminal
While the local government units were under obligation to clear roads of obstructions and illegal constructions, they are also mandated to make sure that the affected vendors will have a place to go where they can continue their business.
Mayor Lyn Tria, together with the Municipal Clearing Operations Team, looked for place to relocate the displaced merchants which led them to a vacant space at the entrance-exit area of Mamburao Grand Terminal. The LGU then started constructing temporary stalls to accommodate the latter while they look for a permanent area.
Later on, DPWH – Occidental Mindoro District Engineering Office informed Mayor Tria that a P4.5 million fund from Cong. Josephine Ramirez – Sato can be used to construct a two-storey public market building. Said fund was originally intended to erect the second floor of Payompon Barangay Hall. The plan was however discarded after it was found out that such is more than the required amount for the project.
Cong. Sato then followed it up with a commitment to add P5 million more, bringing the amount to almost P10 million, to complete the two phases of constructing a two-storey public market building.
Brgy. Chairman Umali, on the other hand, agreed on the re-alignment of her fund since her barangay will benefit more on the construction of new public market building and that it will result to more economic activity in Payompon.
Burned Down Market
In April 2017, Silangan Market was razed down by fire triggered by faulty wiring. Majority of the establishments succumb to ashes and smoke, literally almost clearing the area of its long-standing structures.
For safety purposes, it was closed from public access not until all debris have been cleared. But not long enough, some vendors starting erecting their structures and resumed business as usual without securing necessary permits from the Mamburao LGU.
The supposed “original” vendors scrambled to capitalize the absence of LGU interference to assure their hold on their occupied space.
Case leveled against Mayor Tria
In 2018, a certain Emilia S. Esguerra filed a case against Mayor Lyn Tria accusing her of violation of Article 241 of the Revised Penal Code or the Usurpation of Judicial Function.
The complaint is based Esguerra’s statements that Cong. Josephine Ramirez – Sato instructed Mayor Lyn Tria to put up fence around Lot 535 where the so-called Silangan Market is situated.
Esguerra also claimed that it was Mayor Tria who allowed some vendors to enter the premises thereby giving them permission to start constructing stalls for business purposes in July 15, 2019. Thus, said case was leveled against Mayor Tria.
Lot 535 as Road Right Of Way
In the process of the case hearing, Mayor Tria sent a letter, dated June 9, 2019, to DPWH Occidental Mindoro District Engineer Josefino M. Melgar, Jr. to clarify whether the disputed parcel of land can be used as public market. Melgar in turn referred Mayor Tria’s inquiry to Regional Director Wilfredo S. Mallari (DPWH Regional Office IV-B, EDSA, Dilaiman, Quezon City) who eventually clarified that “Lot 535 is a portion of sixty (60m) width defined as Road Right Of Way (RROW) of a national road” which prohibits the construction of any structure in the area, much more to be used as public market.
It is to be noted as well that even before Mayor Tria made such inquiry on Lot 535, Brgy. Payompon, years ago, has filed a request with DPWH to allow them use and construct a Day Care Center said land area. DPWH also denied such request for the same reason.
Thus, the Court decided in favor of Mayor Tria and that the latter did not commit usurpation of judicial function as claimed by Esguerra.
Portion of the Court decisions reads:
“Carefully assaying and evaluating the foregoing, it is clear that the instant case is based on the allegation of the private complainant that herein respondent allowed and permitted other persons to enter said premises.. The undersigned investigating prosecutor finds the absence of probable cause that the crime as charged had been committed and that the respondent is probably guilty thereof to hold for trial. The assumption of the private complainant based on the letter of the respondent requesting “To Utilize as Public Market the Parcel of Land (Lot 535) situated along the National Road, Brgy. 9, Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro”, and the correspondence between private complainant and Brgy. Captain Lorena Umali, cannot be considered that herein respondent permitted or allowed others (former vendors of Silangan Public Market) to enter said Lot 535 and construct structures therein.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant complaint is hereby dismissed for lack of sufficient evidence.
Moving out to Terminal Public Market
After the deadline of DILG’s memorandum to clear roads of obstructions and illegal constructions, and after sidewalk vendors near OMHNS has moved to temporary market at Grand Terminal, efforts were made by Mamburao LGU to convince other vendors situated at Lot 535 to also do the same.
During January 6 meeting, Mayor Tria recalled that the remaining vendors have asked for a grace period in the months of October, November, and December, and that vendors themselves will voluntarily leave the premises.
Mayor Tria also recollected that vendors even went to her house one evening, crying and sobbing while pledging their commitment to respect and abide with the LGU’s order for them to move to Grand Terminal market. They were then accompanied by Coun. Jenny Villar as per Mayor Tria’s accounts.
One of the vendors however reasoned out that they remained hesitant to move to Terminal market due to absence of electricity connection, and that it will take before the can be served with such as per her inquiry with OMECO.
Mayor Tria answered that the same issue was encountered by the vendors who first moved, but were provided with electricity after some time.
One also defended his side saying that previous and unexpected expenses have already drained their resources, like that of business registration, holding back their decision to immediately move to the temporary market.
“Usapan po natin naka-minutes, gentlemen’s agreement, isang buwan lang kayo. Sabi nyo pagbigyan kayo hanggang December. Ngayon, December 31, lampas na po ang New Year, January 6 na po. Ano pa po ang dapat nating pagbigyan”.
“Ako po ang desisyon ko po, until Friday, whether you like it or not, wala na pong dapat tao sa palengke. Yan po ang order ko. Kasi lumabag na po kayo sa usapin. December 31 ang pakiusap nyo, naroon kayo sa bahay. Andito tayo sa usapin dito. Kayo na po ang lumalabag eh… Basta po ang order ko, pag hindi pa kayo lumipat until Friday, hindi na po kayo kasali sa pwestong ibibigay sa bagong palengke”.Mayor Lyn Tria
Actions After Deadline
MPDC Sonny Girao added that by Friday, his office will proceed with posting “closure notice” information materials.
He also said his office will not issue zoning clearance as required in securing business permit to those who would remain still in Silangan Market after the deadline.
Other offices may also not issue pertinent clearances required of business permit for the same reason.
Mayor Tria at one hand informed vendors present at the meeting that, as per agreed with and recommended by Municipal Veterinarian Dr. Nathaniel Descanzo, the slaughter house will not process hogs for meat by vendors who would still defy the LGU’s order to vacate the area. And if ever they decided to sell meat without going through the slaughterhouse, Municipal Meat Inspectors will have to resort to confiscating them.
It is be noted that business establishments in subject Silangan Market have been operating without business permit for more or less two years now. Buildings were also constructed without building permit and clearance from Municipal Engineering Office.
In the process, the vendors made an appeal on the decision of Mamburao LGU on the matter at hand.
While they have agreed to move to the temporary market, they requested that their structure be not immediately dismantled comes deadline. They said they hope to keep it for awhile as their storage and stock room since the allotted stall space is not enough to accommodate their equipment and merchandise.
The vendors somehow committed to clear their structures until the new Market Building is completed and operational by the month of February.
Mayor Tria, in the hope of finally resolving the issue, agreed to the appeal. She however still made a firm stance on the LGU’s decision as per established deadline.
Deadline might be postponed
In an interview with Business Permit and Licensing Officer Willy Pahilagmago, he said there is great possibility that the established deadline be postponed and be not implemented this coming Friday.
He also added that, as per latest inspection, parts of the LGU constructed temporary market stalls has encroached some portion of the land where the new Market Building will be erected.
Together with MPDC, BPLO Pahilagmago will have to gather personnel first to move said temporary market structure away from the site of construction. After which, that’s only when the vendors will ultimately be required and directed to vacate Silangan Market and take shelter at Grand Terminal temporary market until the new two-storey building is constructed.