by Dianne B. Ubaldo[NEWS FEATURE] “Makikipagsabayan na tayo sa supermarkets,” this was the statement of Los Baños Mayor Caesar Perez during the inspection of Brgy. Baybayin Public Market on July 21, 2013. Mayor Perez explained that the public market inspection aims to ensure that pathways are not overcrowded with vendors putting premium to the convenience of the customers as well as to ensure fair pricing of goods and the use of accurate and calibrated weighing scales.
It is also during the regular public market visits that Task Force Kalinisan (TFK) checks market stalls to ensure that the vendors are complying with the regulations on “No Plastic Policy”, “No Smoking”, and “Tapat Mo, Linis Mo“.
“Sang-ayon ako sa polisiya ng munisipyo kasi mas magandang magdala na lang ng sariling lagayan para mabawasan ang mga plastik na nagdudulot lang ng maraming basura na nagbabara sa mga kanal tuwing may baha,” Renel Lapiz said. On the other hand, Tonio Lanceta explained that “mahirap din naman kung sa papel lang ibabalot ang bigas kasi kapag sumabog talagang nakakapanghinayang.”
While these regulation are met with mixed responses from the customers, these policies are strictly observed by vendors in the Los Baños public markets. “Pabor nga sa aming mga tindera na gamiting pambalot ang mga diyaryo o paper bags kasi mahal ang plastik,”said bread seller Gladys Makiñara. Also, RCC Bienes explained that the vendors following the rules and regulations implemented in the public market because violations result to payment of fines, an additional expense.
Most public market vendors argue that the income they earn is not enough. “Madalang na ang mga mamimili dito sa palengke kaya hirap kaming isampa ang pambayad sa buwis at sana maging maunawain ang munisipyo sa kalagayan naming mga nagtitinda,” said bakery owner Purificacion Regalado.
With the increase in taxes and fees and the increase in number of supermarkets in the municipality; public market vendors are left with greater expenses and decreased sales.
The vendors suggested lower government taxes and fees so they can give lower prices for their goods. Lower prices of goods can encourage more customers to buy in the public markets. RCC Bienes noted that “napahina ang kita ng palengke, kasi ang mga tao naman kapag may bagong bukas na supermarket ay doon sila nagbibilihan pero babalik din naman sa palengke.”
Currently, some consumers prefer to go to supermarkets for the prices of goods, range of products, and for their convenience as with the case of Neneng Bautista, Toto Osido, and Che Espiritu. “May mga produktong mag-kapresyo sa palengke at supermarket, pero sa supermarket ako namimili kasi komportable at naka-aircon pa,” said Bautista. Osido explained that he frequently shops in supermarkets “kasi may aircon at organisado, hindi katulad sa palengke na maputik at iba’t-iba ang amoy.” Espiritu confirmed that it is easier for her to locate goods and it is more convenient to shop given the carts and the air conditioning in supermarkets.
On the other hand, consumers like Ronnie Pascua explained that “sa palengke ako namimili kasi gusto kong makatipid at mas sariwa pa ang mga paninda kaysa sa mga supermarkets na frozen ang mga karne at isda.” Lea Navarro added that “nakakahingi ako ng diskwento sa mga tindera sa palengke kaya nakakatipid ako at mas maganda pa ang kwalidad ng mga paninda kasi sariwang-sariwa ang mga gulay.” Boy Rodriguez supported that one can get discounts in public markets as well as select better quality vegetables unlike in supermarkets where the good are pre-packed with fixed pricing.
According to the member of the Public Market Vendors’ Association and a coconut milk seller Alex Foster, the 2009 Revenue Code of Los Baños included an increase in the amount of taxes that sellers pay in renting their stalls. The association is negotiating with the Public Market Administrator for the amendment of the 2009 Revenue Code of Los Baños to lessen the amount of taxes. Municipal Councilors Jay Rolusta and Norvin Tamisin are supporting the intent of the Public Market Vendors’ Association in the amendment of the revenue code.
RCC Bienes explained that Mayor Perez and the Sangguniang Bayan are looking for possible solutions to modify the revenue code in order to respond to the petition of the Public Market Vendor’s Association.
Currently, the public markets vendors pay taxes and fees based on the space rented. Included in the taxes and fees are electricity usage, ticket, and business permit. RCC Bienes, stated that the taxes they collect in daily electricity usage is Php 6,000 and tickets roughly worth Php 7,000. The local government also gives deadline extensions, notices, and interests to vendors who were not able to pay their dues on time. Vegetable vendor Merly Yadao said that “maayos at regular ang pamamalakad ng munisipyo sa pagkolekta ng mga buwis sa aming mga tindera.”