Friday, November 15, 2013

Philippines' Urban Poor Commemorates International Street Vendors Day

Press Statement
From: Anthony Barnedo, Secretary General, KPML-NCRR

November 14, 2013


The Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng mga Maralita ng Lunsod - National Capital Region-Rizal chapter (KPML-NCRR) or Congress of Unity of the Urban declared our solidarity to all vendors from our country, Philippines, and other parts of the world in commemorating the International Street Vendors Day every November 14. 

On November 14, 2012, during the 10th year anniversary of StreetNet International, a global collective of street vendor organizations working in Latin America, Africa and Asia, they unanimously declared every November 14 as the International Street Vendors Day. StreetNet was founded in Durban, South Africa, in November 14, 2002.

Here in the streets of major cities, most especially in Metro Manila, street vendors can be seen in populated places. In our case, most of our members are vendors who live through their own means without help from the government. Because of poverty, they live in selling many tyoes of items to augment their need for a day. Some say, vendors are "isang kahig, isang tuka" (like a rooster, one worm in every scratch at the soil), which means they will not eat for a day if they don't work for a day. That's why vendors sold in the streets foods like fried squidballs, fishballs, barbecue, penoy, balut, pusit, taho, palamig, and many others. Many people buy street foods because of cheaper price and ready to eat. Vendors also sell cheap things like belt for P20, and other paraphernalia. Some vendors sell newspapers and cigarettes during traffic at Manila streets. People can buy fresh fish, dried fish (tuyo), banana such as saba, lakatan and latundan, fruits like lansones, mangoes, oranges, apples, mani or peanuts, corn, household/kitchen wares, and different kind of tools.

But vendors are not safe. Eleven years ago, vendors are in the limelight, always in the front pages of newspapers. It is because the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), through its Chairman, Bayani Fernando, declared war on vendors. Fernando even said that vendors who will fight back will be arrested (Phil. Daily Inquirer, Augsut 27, 2002, page A21). He even told his men to burn confiscated goods from the vendors so they cannot go back to streets again. That's why vendors called him a Hitler.

But when Fernando was gone from the MMDA because he ran as vice president during the 2010 national election, the vendors still is not safe. The vendors continued to be harassed by the authorities. But vendors continue to sell and organized themselves to protect their livelihood. They even have to pay protection money to some crooks in the government. Somehow, street vendors continue to contribute to urban economy through goods in cheaper prices, because the government itself cannot give jobs to them. Street vendors give an important service to the poor.

Vendors have a right to their livelihood and earn their living, as written at the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. And to guarantee that vendors rights are respected, there should be an ordinance or a law, perhaps a Magna Carta for Vendors, to protect them from harassment. 

In the second year of celebrating the International Street Vendors Day, we look forward for the street vendors rights be recognized and respected.

No comments: