Traders picket, file TRO over trading post closure

>> Sunday, March 13, 2016

La Trinidad mayor’s life threatened by gunman 

By Khyrl Leizel Tanacio and CK Rosario

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – “Middlemen” at the vegetable trading post filed for a temporary restraining order urging the court to stop Mayor Edna Tabanda from closing the facility where millions of pesos in trade is generated out of vegetables wherein 75 percent supplies needs of Metro Manila and other lowland areas.       
The trading post is winding down operations so farmers will sell vegetables at the nearby Benguet AgriPinoy Trading Center within the Strawberry Fields area where policies will be set by government and farmers stopping monopoly of prices by vegetable traders.
This, as Tabanda’s life is reportedly under threat as her relatives told her they overhead two men conversing over the closure of the old trading post with one of them saying he would shoot her with a gun.        
On Monday, disposers, packers and other groups affected by closure of the trading post conducted a rally at Justice Hill here when they filed for TRO following notice issued by Tabanda for them to vacate the trading post.   
“I wanted to go there to answer them but the chief of police said that I better not go there for my security.” Tabanda said.
She added that she was not afraid if her decision will affect her votes come election since she is running for the same post because she does not care if she loses because according to her, she can live even if she will lose.
Tabanda said laws and policies were being disregarded at the trading post that is why they were going to push through with renovation of the building and its premises once the issue is resolved.
Tabanda told farmers’ organizations, cooperatives, traders and disposers from Benguet and Bauko, Mt. Province who convened here recently at BAPTC grounds that the facility had long been a planned strategy of the government to help vegetable farmers and improve the trading system.
The establishment of BAPTC started in 2010, alongside 27 other trading centers constructed in the country.
Tabanda urged farmers to trade and sell at the trading center, saying it would offer benefits to them in the long run.
“At the BAPTC, prices are regulated which is an advantage to the farmer and consumer. Both the farmers and the traders will also be secured from volatile trading situations that can harm them. BAPTC will also be helping farmers acquire loans from trusted credit institutions,” she said.
 “The La Trinidad local government unit, together with the Department of Agriculture allotted funds for renovation of the old trading post. We plan to utilize the facility as a market for the municipality’s champion commodities including cutflowers,” Tabanda added.
The mayor said that the renovation is advantageous for the municipality since it would lessen traffic congestion, and address unsanitary condition caused by trading operations done in the area.
BAPTC started its transition period on Feb. 22 wherein accredited farmers and farmers’ organizations transferred from the old trading post to begin trading in the said facility.
This, as the Department of Agriculture, Cordillera regional office said farmers are not against the closure of the old trading post here, rather they are pushing for immediate operation of the Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center (BAPTC) to handle trading of vegetables.
Engr. Danilo P. Daguio, OIC chief operations officer of BAPTC said  in press briefing Monday farmers were offended because some groups used the term “farmers” while opposing the closure of the trading post.
“In fact, the middlemen, disposers, and retailers are mostly opposing it,” Daguio said.
Daguio said speculations on BAPTC disregarding disposers, packers, porters and washers were not true.
“They are all welcome but they must have to undergo the accreditation process. Accreditation is a strategy to a more systematic operation of the BAPTC,” he said.
This, as Dr. Lorenzo M. Caranguian, DAR-CAR regional director there are at least 80,000 farmers and 56 farmers’ cooperatives in Benguet which the BAPTC could cater to.
The BAPTC, he said, could accommodate 400 trucks at a given time with P1,500 tons of vegetables passing daily. 
The target closure of the trading post issued by La Trinidad local government was March 1, 2016;
However, an extension of 20 days was given due to temporary restraining order secured from local court by stall owners affected by the closure.

Tabanda said during the farmers’ orientation for accreditation that the old trading post will be improved into a business enterprise for the municipality to showcase its champion commodities, specifically cutflowers, and others.  


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