BRUSHING aside persistent complaints riding on the backbone of traditional political machinations, Mayor Benjie Magalong presented anew the numerous advantages expected from an emerging public market modernization plan now in the final stages of negotiation with the original proponent status holder, the SM Group of Companies.

“The plan is re-development of the presently deteriorating public market into a modernized market facility, not a mollification as depicted in fabricated lies by sectors hateful of change and progress for a better market,” Mayor Magalong stressed, as he and his Good Governance Beyond Politics team eyeing elective seats in the upcoming May 9, 2022 local elections held a face-off dialogue with market vendors and market goers days recently.

It’s not a done deal as yet, he stressed, belying ugly rumors that a sell-out has taken place. “We’re now in the final stages of negotiations on a 100-plus items to be embodied in a Terms of Reference that will be subjected to the rigors of an assessment by the city negotiating panel. When finally deserving of a go-ahead, the document will be subjected to an end-review by me, to ensure that the mandated provisions are clearly advantageous to the city government,” he added.

In a half-hour presentation, Mayor Magalong emphasized that so far, there is agreement with the OPS holder, SM, that in the market facility that the builder will erect, the city owns and manages 70 percent of available vending spaces to be occupied by eligible legitimate present-day stallholders at present-day rental rates.

“Furthermore, our legitimate vendors will have guaranteed rights of occupancy to a relocation market place during the construction period. The builder will retain 30 percent management rights for retail of high and middle-end products. Both market vendors and retail vendors will have equality of marketing exposure to increased foot traffic in the vending areas,” the Mayor asserted.

“Far too long has the public market been the object of re-development designed to elevate its stature to globally accepted standards of market patronage now common in advanced countries,” he added, pointing out that the public market has even been embroiled in a long drawn-out court battle that halted its development way back in the decade of the 90’s.

“Definitely, the re-development plan has been so well-studied that the city opted to bring it to proper evaluation and processing under the Public-Private Partnership for the People scheme with policy directions and protocols established under present laws. No political influence is allowed under this strict business model in which the city retains 70 percent ownership and management control of a market facility whose development cost, including construction, is at the builder’s expense.

“It is unfortunate that in six wide-ranging public consultations with stakeholders, so much fabricated lies and political maneuverings have been done in a vain attempt to revive the nefarious and disadvantageous aspects of the eventually litigated Baguio City-Uniwide deal signed between officials of the two parties,” the mayor lamented.

“It is also imperative that the city should work out a public-partnership agreement so that no city funds, which are presently strained, are used in piece-meal rehabilitation; doing that is budgetarily out of the question, placing the basic needs of running the government severely compromised,” he also pointed out.

“If we want our public market to be a showcase of utmost orderliness, where basic health and sanitation are evident, where market roads are used properly and not as dumping sites for daily trash output, where market vendors and market goers can do market activities in pleasant, friendly, suki-to-suki engagements, then a market modernization, as envisioned, should be the rightful step. Even the historical and cultural lineage of the old market are assured to be a conservation influence in the designs that we have seen, thus preserving essential indigenous footprints in the facility,” he further stressed.

Mayor Magalong also emphasized that the market re-development project will put an end to the corruption-riddled market vending practices that have marked the illegal sub-leasing activities “which have gone on and on unabatingly.” 

“Let’s put an end to corruption right here and now, as we move forward to instilling a culture of excellence in the way we run the public market,” he declared, disclosing that corrupt ways have been lording it over far too long, “another reason why enemies of change and reform desire no less than the perpetration of patronage politics in the area.”