January 12, 2018

ILOILO City – The public plaza of Jaro district will again be transformed into a giant fiesta carnival, but this time for only a month.

Mayor Jose Espinosa III has authorized the Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) of Jaro to once again manage the 2018 Jaro Agro-Industrial and Charity Fair.

Under Executive Order No. 002-2018 of the mayor, however, the fair should last only until Feb. 8 from Jan. 8.

Jaro’s annual fiesta is on Feb. 2. Every year, thousands of devotees of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria (Our Lady of Candles), the patron saint of the district, gather at the Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral just across the plaza.

For years, the city government allowed the transformation of Jaro Plaza into a flea market in the months leading to the fiesta, beginning October. It hosted ukay-ukay stalls, eateries and videoke bars, among others.

This year, there was no mention of ukay-ukay stalls, eateries and videoke bars in Espinosa’s executive order. ABC-Jaro can only introduce the following to the plaza: retail kiosks, mobile store/carts, feria and rides, garden/landscaping show, agro-industrial exhibit.

These should be located on the peripheries of the plaza: far left side of the plaza facing Rizal Street fronting Pa-a store; on the side facing El 98 Street, and the street fronting the Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral going to E. Lopez Street.

October last year, Espinosa declared it a policy of his administration not to allow ukay-ukay stalls in all public plazas, citing flagrant violations of Republic Act 4653 (An Act to Safeguard the Health of the People and Maintain the Dignity of the Nation by Declaring it a National Policy to Prohibit the Commercial Importation of Textile Articles Commonly known as Used Clothing and Rags).

For this year’s Jaro fiesta, Espinosa said the plaza must not be closed and no entrance fee should be collected.

During last year’s fiesta, ABC-Jaro came under fire for closing the plaza and imposing a P10 carnival entrance fee.

This did not have legal basis, according to City Administrator Hernando Galvez.

Collecting fees not sanctioned by law or to impose or collect anything beyond what is allowed by law is illegal exaction, said Galvez, citing the Revised Penal Code.

“The imposition of fees must be via ordinance. All fees should be covered by a receipt. Fees not covered by receipts are considered illegal exaction…ang nagapanukot should be held liable,” said Galvez.

The 2017 Jaro fiesta further attracted controversy because of the vendors doing business on the sidewalks around the plaza. They did not have legal basis to do so, said Galvez.

The city government’s Task Force on Anti-Squatting and Illegal Structures was ordered to demolish these sidewalk vendors’ structures.

The affected vendors included those selling fruits, pots and iron stoves, curtains, t-shirts, decorative garden pots, bingka, marble furniture and decors, among others./PN


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