MANILA - A battle over rolling stores is raging in San Juan City, as political opponents clashed over a mobile food service seen as crucial amid the coronavirus crisis.
Former senator Jinggoy Estrada has accused San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora of blocking a mobile market that sold goods at half the price - an initiative of his daughter Janella, who had lost to the incumbent mayor in the last elections.
Speaking to DZMM radio, Estrada, who earlier ranted online against the mayor, alleged that Zamora ordered Janella's "rolling store" to stop for lacking a permit. He condemned this as a political act.
"Hinihingan ako ng business permit. Eh hindi naman negosyo 'yong ginagawa namin. Kawanggawa," he said.
(They are asking for a business permit. This is not a business. [This is for] charity.)
"Huwag mo naman gamitin sa pamomolitika ito. Sa panahong ito kailangan magtulungan, kailangan mag-unite dahil iisa lang ang kalaban namin," said Estrada, who lost his senatorial bid in May 2019.
(Don't politicize this. In this time, we have to help each other and unite because we are facing the same enemy.)
He claimed Zamora told San Juan market vendors to stop selling them goods for the mobile market.
Estrada said that while his camp could apply for a permit, he refused to do so, saying the initiative is an act of charity.
"Ibig sabihin, lahat ng kawanggawa sa San Juan, hinihingan ng permit? Hindi naman tama 'yon," he said.
(Does this mean all charities in San Juan, they are asked for a permit? This doesn't seem right.)
But Zamora, in a separate interview, called the Estradas' mobile market "illegal," and said a service that still charges money could not be considered charity.
He urged the Estradas to comply with the law by securing a permit from City Hall.
"Why don't they just follow the law? Are they above the law?... Dahil senador siya, dahil vice mayor dati anak niya ay exempted sila sa batas? (Because he was a former senator and his daughter is a former vice mayor, they are exempted from the law?)," he told DZMM radio.
The San Juan mayor said the Estradas' mobile market was competing with legitimate vendors at the Agora Market by selling the same products at half the price.
"How can they (vendors) compete sa presyohan na binagsak ng kabila?" Zamora said.
He said the vendors even issued a manifesto against the Estradas' mobile market.
Zamora said he would subsidize, out of his personal funds, goods sold at the city government's own mobile palengke.
Zamora's victory in the 2019 elections ended the Estrada-Ejercito clan's hold of the city for 5 decades. Estrada is, meanwhile, facing a plunder trial for his alleged role in the multibillion-peso Priority Development Assistance Fund scam, and is out on bail.