By Chito Chavez
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte on April 7, Tuesday, thanked the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) for accommodating her request that the 19 vendors who were nabbed for illegally selling vegetables on April 4 be released.
“Nagpapasalamat tayo sa QCPD na pinakinggan ang aking pakiusap na palayain ang mga vendor na kanilang hinuli (We are grateful to the QCPD for heeding my request to release the vendors they previously detained),” said Belmonte.
To recall Belmonte, appealed to QCPD director Brig. Gen. Ronnie Montejo to set the vendors free.
The vendors were arrested for selling their goods along Elliptical corner Maharlika St. at Brgy. Old Capitol Site on the evening of April 4, Saturday.
The QCPD said the vendors violated Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act and City Ordinance 1364 series of 2003 or illegal street vending.
“Naiintindihan natin na ginagawa lang ng QCPD ang kanilang trabaho, ngunit nakiusap tayo sa kanila na pakawalan na ang mga vendor sa pangakong hindi na uulitin ang kanilang ginawa (We understand that the QCPD was just doing its job, but we appealed for the vendors to be set free with the promise that they won’t commit the same mistake),” Belmonte said.
Instead of illegally plying their trade, Belmonte encouraged the vendors to join the city government’s Fresh Market on Wheels program so they can sell their goods in different barangays legally and with an assured market.
Initiated by the QC Small Business and Cooperatives Development Promotions Office (SBCDPO), the Fresh Market on Wheels sells fresh produce to different barangays amid the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
As part of the Fresh Market on Wheels, the SBCDPO, headed by Mona Celine Yap, also launched “Buy, Gulay Online” where vegetables can be ordered by bulk, in coordination with barangays and homeowners associations.
Prior to the ECQ, illegal vendors were taken into the city’s Sari-sari Kyusi initiative and then later included in Suki sa Kyusi, a program for informal vendors where they are given training and access to selling areas.
“Their problem has always been where to sell, so we gave them a solution through Fresh Market on Wheels, which now travels to different barangays,” said Yap.
Through the city’s Kalingang QC program, Belmonte said vendors stand to receive a one-time financial aid of P2,000, which is given to informal sector workers residing in Quezon City whose livelihood is affected by the ECQ.
“We already have several programs and initiatives in place for residents to ensure that their livelihoods won’t be affected by the ECQ,” said Belmonte.
She also allayed fears of vendors about getting hungry, saying they should just wait for the weekly ration of food packs being distributed regularly by the local government to all barangays.
“Earlier today, 395 bags were distributed to members of various vendors associations,” she said.
Midway through week four of the crisis, the city also released another wave of food packs to barangays for house-to-house distribution in consonance with home quarantine and social distancing measures.
She reiterated her call to local residents to address their questions regarding the distribution of food packs to their respective barangay officials.