Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada has ordered an investigation into the reported “mafia-style” operation of individuals allegedly monopolizing the operation of the newly modernized Quinta Market in Quiapo.
While saying such rumors are “preposterous,” Estrada said he still wanted to get to the bottom of it to address the concerns raised by several vendors applying for registration at the recently reopened public market.
“True or not, we have to look into those allegations. I will never allow anyone or any group to run our Quinta Market for their own personal benefit. There will be no special favors here,” he said.
Estrada designated Market Administration Office chief Annie Balboa to lead the investigation.
During a recent public hearing at the City Hall led by the Committee on Market, Hawkers, and Slaughterhouses chaired by Councilor Joel Par, several vendors and stallholders complained that some of their colleagues were given more than one stall at Quinta in violation of the city’s Market Code.
There were reports that only 26 families managed to take control of 146 stalls, when the law mandates that only one stall should be given per family or vendor. The 26 families were not even residents of Manila, the vendors complained.
In a memorandum, Balboa tasked Quinta Market supervisor Marjorie Yebra to coordinate with the market developer, Marketlife Management and Leasing Corp., to verify these allegations.
“We can’t say yet if this so-called ‘mafia’ at the Quinta Market is true. The mayor ordered an investigation,” Balboa said.
Estrada, she stressed, would never allow this kind of scheme, since his priority is to accommodate as many vendors or stallholders as they can in the city’s renovated public markets.
These allegations came from the so-called United Vendors Alliance led by Jerome Pagunson, which has been raising issues against the city government and Quinta Market, according to the 289-member Quinta Market Vendors Association Cooperative Development.
During a TV news interview, Pagunson alleged that a “mafia” or organized syndicate is controlling Quinta Market, giving away multiple stalls to anyone who could pay extra fees.
“After the renovation in Quinta Market, there was a monopoly,” Pagunson said, adding that this caused several vendors to be displaced, forcing them to ply their goods in the sidewalks instead.
He explained that under the Market Code of the city, no vendor/stallholder should be given more than one stall in any of the local public markets. “One family owns 5 up to 7 stalls,” Pagunson alleged.
Estrada inaugurated the new Quinta Market during his 80th birthday on April 19. This is the latest public market in the city to undergo complete reconstruction.
Located on Carlos Palanca Street near the Pasig River, the old Quinta Market has been a popular landmark in Quiapo, but its dilapidated state prompted the city government to have it renovated and modernized.
Estrada signed a joint venture agreement with Marketlife Management and Leasing Corp. for this landmark project.
Like the four previously renovated markets, Quinta Market now has modern wet and dry sections and stalls, airconditioned restrooms, a food court, fast food restaurants, security cameras, and even free Wi-Fi connections, according to City Engineer Rogelio Legazpi.
The building’s second floor is the parking area for customers.
Also, part of the P150-million rehabilitation of Quinta Market is the planned construction of a fish port nearby, and later a ferry terminal, that will serve fish traders and barges from various locations, especially Navotas, that will be bringing in fresh produce.
The construction of the ferry terminal, on the other hand, is a joint effort by the city government of Manila and the Philippine Ports Authority as part of the latter’s plan to fully revive passenger ferry service along the Pasig River.