Labella: Probe men involved in ‘maltreatment’ of vendor may be fired
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella has ordered an investigation into the three personnel of the Prevention, Order, Beautification, and Enhancement (Probe) team who were involved in alleged maltreatment of an ambulant vendor along A. Soriano Street on November 21, 2019.
In a phone interview with CDN Digital on Friday, November 22, Labella expressed dismay over the incident of “violently apprehending” the vendor.
The mayor said he would be calling the involved personnel and Probe chief Racquel Arce to a meeting to admonish them about how they implement the campaign meant to give the sidewalks back to pedestrian by removing the sidewalk vendors.
“Let this be noted by all Probe team members that although they need to do their job, they should make sure that they are not harming the vendors. They have to temper it with compassion. I will never tolerate this kind of incident,” said the mayor.
Labella said he has ordered an administrative investigation into the incident, as the operatives will be accorded due process. But if proven that they committed lapses in how they handled the sidewalk vendor at A. Soriano Street, they may be fired.
The alleged maltreatment was captured on video by a netizen, Joseph Deriada, who posted it on his Facebook page at 5:53 p.m. on Thursday, November 21, 2019. The still unnamed vendor was seen being shoved and pushed against the railing as he attempted to recover from the Probe operatives the basket of oranges he was selling.
The video has since gone viral, receiving 1.9 million views as of 8 p.m. on Friday, 79,000 shares, 29,000
The mayor said he will not hesitate to fire them if they really maltreated the vendor without reason, and if they did not exhaust all means to deal peacefully with the resisting vendors.
The Cebu City Legal Office (CLO) will lead the investigation to jumpstart the investigation.
“The CLO is now conducting its investigation on this incident. I have convened a three-lawyer team to call on the parties concerned, including witnesses. We will look into the issue of whether or not proper legal and regulatory procedures were observed by the elements of PROBE in the conduct of that apprehension of the fruit vendor,” said City Legal Officer Rey Gealon in a text message to CDN Digital.
Long term solution
Labella said all displaced vendors from the major thoroughfares of the city will be relocated properly, just like how the 250 sidewalk vendors have been placed at the Tabo sa Banay.
The rest of the at least 300 displaced vendors will be placed in the Night Market at Colon Street that the city is planning to put up before Christmas.
“I am now waiting for the final plans. The night market will be there. They only need to wait,” said the mayor.
The night market was stopped by Labella shortly after he became the mayor because he heard of individuals taking advantage of the night market system, allowing them to earn from the vendors illegally.
Labella said a better system will be established in the new night market. /elb
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