BY PET MELLIZA/THE BEEKEEPER
Ang taong nagigipit sa patalim kumakapit, goes a Tagalog adage of desperate people don’t minding grabbing at anything including knives to survive.
The maxim resonates here as: Ang taong nagigipit, sa Bombay kumakapit. People in want are willing to contract loan sharks.
That’s the situation now of entrepreneurs at public markets of Iloilo City – Mandurriao Public Market, Super Market, Central Market, Jaro Small Market, Jaro Big Market, and La Paz Market. Go there and stall holders will tell you business is not brisk nowadays.
Go to any of those public markets just to observe, without interviewing any vendor. The whole day of the market, you will see the ubiquitous Bombay or its Pinoy agents hopping from one kiosk or table to another with their pocket notebooks serving as listahan of debtors and their balances, to collect.
The usurers are wise enough not to expose their line beyond P5,000 per borrower though they may part more than that in extraordinary circumstances when their borrowers already proved their credit worthiness.
Market vendors are often overtaken by emergency to buy supplies or repay suppliers. Government has no program of giving micro-credits to small business people; the Bombay and its local counterparts readily fill that void by lending P1,000 for five days at 10 to 20 percent interest rate. At most, if the loan is unpaid within the period, the creditor is just too glad to continue collecting the interest. A P1,000 yields P200 in interest. The creditor collects instalments of the interest daily which makes the full interest looks less burdensome. If the borrower couldn’t pay the principal on time, the creditor will just extend the term and continues collecting the interest for the extended period – to the usurer’s advantage anyway.
The Iloilo City government aggravates the market vendors’ woes. Though an ordinance authored by one who should be pilloried for callousness, anyone who has a stall, kiosk, table or any kind of space within the premises of public markets has to reapply.
There’s nothing wrong with reapplying. The problem though is that, each must cough “goodwill money” of P5,000, P10,000 or P15,000 depending on the area occupied. No goodwill money no new permit.
This is robbery. Goodwill money used to be required of new applicants, not existing ones whose only obligation is to renew yearly and pay the corresponding fees for that, on top of paying their monthly rentals plus bills for water, electricity and janitorial services.
Today old tenants are considered new by virtue of their reapplications which warrant the exaction of goodwill money. The city government already increased the rate of rentals. Vendors don’t see the wisdom of charging them goodwill fee when they have been renting their spaces for years already. Many of the stalls in fact, have been passed on from parents to children who in turn, handed them over to succeeding generations.
The vendors seethe with rage which in this election season may be translated into a concerted political action of trashing whoever is part of the enactment of that monstrous ordinance, whether as author or voter. That may also spill over to the protégées who “graduating” co-conspirators may anoint to take their seats in the local legislature.
Worse, that may translate into a damning rejection of their capo di tuti capi who masterminded the measure. Don’t you think, Mayor Jed?