MANILA- Around a hundred people, mostly street vendors from the Divisoria area, staged a protest outside Manila City Hall on Monday morning to call for a dialogue with Mayor Isko Moreno in hopes of going back to sell their wares in the shopping district.
They shouted "Kabuhayan, ipaglaban" and asked the mayor to come down and meet them.
Moreno, however, said he had other scheduled appointments and would be unable to meet with the protesters.
Gloria Ricafrente, one of the vendors, said life has been difficult for vendors' families after they were prohibited from selling along the main thoroughfares of Divisoria such as Recto and Soler. She said vendors have been neglected in Moreno's cleanup drive.
"Sabi ni Mayor, kasama kami sa pagbabago ng Maynila. Nasaan kami? Tinatapon kami! Hindi kami pinakikinggan. Kung hulihin kami parang kriminal," she said.
"Papayag naman kami kahit sa bangketang maliit. Hindi naman ho malaking space ang hinihiling namin! Nakakadaan naman nang maayos ang mga sasakyan."
The vendors showed the media photos of the vendor-cleared areas, which are now being used as parking spaces for motorcycles.
"Mas inuna niya ang pag pa-parking kesa sa aming mga vendor, " Ricafrente said.
"Makikita niyo na hindi kami ang sagabal kung hindi ang traffic."
But Moreno said his administration had given the vendors alternate locations for their stalls, with the condition they remain within their set areas and keep their places clean.
"Nabigyan na sila ng pagkakataon, sinayang nila."
The last straw, he said, was finding the areas littered with trash at an inspection last week.
"Unfair 'yun sa mamamayan. That is too much to bear. Inakap ko na kayo. Pinaramdam ko na malasakit ng gobyerno. Ipinagkaloob ko sila ng pagkakataon, ang ibabalik nila ay kababuyan."
The vendors, however, deny that the trash came from them.
Rather than meet with the vendors, Moreno said the city government is busy paving, cleaning up, and maintaining the cleared streets.
The street vendors, meanwhile, vowed to continue their protest until Moreno hears out their grievances.