Erap to vendors: Don’t pay ‘fees’

Manila Standard | By Sandy Araneta | February 6, 2017

Amid the reported widespread extortion racket in the Divisoria and Blumentritt districts, Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada on Sunday reminded legitimate vendors not to pay any illegal fees to groups or individuals posing as city hall representatives.

Estrada assured protection to the vendors being harassed or coerced into shelling out money other than for legal fees being charged by city hall.

“You don’t need to pay anything to anyone. I’m empowering you not to give in to these syndicates. Just pay city hall, we will protect you,” Estrada told a group of vendors from the districts during a dialogue last Friday.

“If they keep bothering you, report it directly to me,” he assured the vendors.

As far as the city government is concerned, Estrada said legitimate vendors in Blumentritt have to pay only P40 a day as rent for their stalls.

The vendors, however, reported being charged P160 a day by a lone “organizer” for their spaces. Blumentritt has about 3,000 vendors.

A fish and poultry vendor, Julieta Mungkal, complained to Estrada that the P160 fee is too much of a burden for them, considering they have legitimate permits from city hall.

“We pay high fees for the place,” she said, adding they only used to pay P110.

Estrada promised the vendors he would look into it.

“We will not tolerate it. We will go after them,” the mayor told the vendors.

Estrada reiterated he has orderd the citywide road clearing operations specifically to shield legitimate vendors from protection syndicates.

He earlier called on the thousands of vendors in Manila, especially in Divisoria, to be wary of syndicates and personalities inciting them to rally against the road clearing operations.

“These extortionists and syndicates who earn money by demanding ‘protection fees’ from illegal vendors are feeling the heat of our street clearing operations. It is not surprising they are attempting to make this desperate move to break our momentum,” Estrada pointed out.