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Newsstand have until June 2021 to relocate

LISTEN TO US. Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club president Aldwin Quitasol explains before the Baguio city council on Monday the stand of local journalists in the plan of the city to have all newsstands around the city removed. To his right is BCBC secretary Malen Catajan. Pigeon Lobien

Newsstand owners will get a six month reprieve as they search for a new location for their businesses.

Some 41 newsstand owners and 43 watch repair and key/locksmith stands will be able to operate at their respective place of business as a bargain of sorts during a dialogue with the city licensing and planning offices Tuesday, December 15 at the Baguio City Hall.

This to give them ample time as well as draft with the city government on how best they could not be affected by the city’s efforts to remove all obstructions along city streets as ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte and embodied in a Department of Interior and Local Government circular.

Licensing Office chief Allan Abayo during the Tuesday dialogue with some 70 stall owners as well as members of the press and newspaper publishers said that they must come to a solution with the affected businesses to effect the new directive that will benefit the “people”.

“We are not here to remove you but we want to effect the directive and for us to find you a better place to put up your stands,” said Abayo during the nearly three hours dialogue.

Newsstand owners last week were apprehensive of the city’s plan to rid the city streets of all “obstructions” including their newsstands, wherein they are given until December 20 to remove such as the licensing office will no longer renew their business permit.

On Tuesday the licensing office agreed that they will renew their permits, however, all newspaper stands owners must stop selling other stuff in their three by 1.5 feet stall beside newspaper. For the newspaper sellers to survive, they claim, especially during the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, they resorted to selling candies, face masks and gift wrappers.

That, Daryl Longid of the Public Order Safety Division said, makes them rivals to those who have license in selling those stuff.

“We should stick to selling only those under your license,” plead engineer Felipe Puzon, chief of staff of mayor Benjamin Magalong, who celebrated his 60th birthday.

Abayo said that while they identify the place to sell, they will also make an inventory on which stalls are located on tight sidewalks for relocation and this will take until the end of January.

Earlier, the Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club president Aldwin Quitasol said that the Baguio – Benguet media join news stand owners in a protest to rid city streets of newspaper stalls.

While newspaper vendors, the BCBC noted, contribute to local economy, they too “play a big role in the delivery of news and information.”

He added: “Without them, local and national newspapers will not thrive and gain readership.

“ The licensing office said that news stand owners should place their product inside establishments of business owners.

Quitasol added that these vendors earn little and would not be able to pay whatever rent they will pay for use of space.

Quitasol said that he is afraid that if the government pushes through with this, most of the newspaper vendors will stop selling newspapers and when they do, the chain of information to the public will now be cut.

He added: “For decades, newspaper vendors have proven to be essential to the flow of news and information.”

In a pooled editorial that came out last weekend, it read: “Baguio is a university town, more than a tourist destination. Local newspapers flourished in Baguio. The Baguio Midland Courier is the longest continuously existing community newspaper in the country.”

It added: The opinions and issues raised by these newspapers helped shape the unique nature of our city politics.”

On Monday, December 14, the BCBC appeared before the city council to air its side on the issue. But vice mayor Faustino Olowan said that the dialogue must push through first before they can be called to act or intervene.

It further read: Through ups and downs, from the 1990 Earthquake to Covid-19, local newspapers (and Manila broadsheets for that matter) have survived. And with them are our partners, the newsstand sellers.”

Jane Gonzales, who sells newspapers in front of the Sunshine Grocery said that a similar call was made during the time of mayor Luis Lardizabal which was opposed by their group.

“Dagdag pahirap sa amin ito. Konti na nga lang kita (It will make our lives even more miserable. We only make a little),” she explained.

Gonzales said that she makes a lot less now than in the 80s, when even with only three broadsheets, the Midland during Sundays, the magazines and the comics, which was then at its glory days her income could provide for her family.

“Ngayon kailangang dagdagan ng pagkakakitaan. Kaya may face masks, candies at Christmas wrappers (Now, we need more to have more income. So we have face masks, candies and Christmas wrappers).” Pigeon

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