BINMALEY–Stall owners along the main avenue Plaza Rizal St. here, where a new commercial complex is planned for construction, re contemplating to file more charges against the mayor after he ordered that no business permit be issued them beginning this year.
The stall owners, who have been occupying the space for decades now, are already engaged in a legal battle with Mayor Lorenzo Cerezo after he ordered their ejection while the stall owners have filed a separate case questioning the passage of an ordinance authorizing the mayor to avail of a P55-million loan for some projects, including the construction of a commercial strip in Plaza Rizal Street.
Lawyer Artemio Escat Jr., one of the 16 affected stall owners, said the mayor could not refuse them a permit because the legality of their occupancy of the area has yet to be determined by the court.
A memorandum dated Jan. 3, 2012 issued by Cerezo addressed to Engr. Rodolfo Benitez, licensing officer II, and Erlinda Erguiza, municipal treasurer, says,” Those who are illegally occupying stalls at the Plaza Rizal Street who do not have contract of lease should not be issued any business permit likewise you are hereby directed not to collect any payment in relation to the said business permit. All unpaid business related fees that accrued in the past years should, however, be collected.”
It also said, “If they move to other areas where they could legally engage in business then the business permit may be issued accordingly.”
Escat said Cerezo is fabricating grounds in order to be able to close their stalls citing that if they are not granted a business permit, the municipal government would be able to claim they are operating their businesses illegally.
“They are not sincere in negotiating with the stall owners,” Escat said, adding that Cerezo should give stall owners permit first pending the outcome of the case they filed against their eviction.
“Since the case is still pending in court, they should grant us permit so that stall owners could still do business,” he said.
He noted that under the Constitution, “you cannot deprive any person of his property, business without due process of law”.
“Now we see that the mayor’s office and the licensing office are not sincere in negotiating with us because in this simple case of granting us permit, they refuse to give us, how much more the assurance that we could go back to our place once it has been improved?” Escat said.
A mediation was set last Monday at the regional trial court in Lingayen to discuss the assurance that the stall owners are seeking.
But Escat said Cerezo’s mayor would only go so far as a verbal assurance.
“They only assure us verbally but if we ask it in written form, they refuse to do so where’s assurance and sincerity there?” Escat said.–Eva Visperas