Heated debate over Dagupan vs Bulacan bangus continues

PROPONENTS of the ban on Bulacan bangus, as well as those against it, clashed anew during the continuation of the joint committees’ public hearing on a proposed ordinance in the Sangguniang Panlungsod seeking to authorize the accreditation of two or more exclusive Dagupan bangus dealers/consignacion in the city.

Noting the woes aired by local bangus growers and producers unduly affected by the regular delivery of Bulacan bangus to the city fish market, Councilor Teresa Coquia, chairman of the SP committee on Market, reiterated her earlier proposal for a total ban of bangus coming from outside Pangasinan which she said tastes and smells like mud.

“Para sa akin, the total ban of bangus coming from outside Pangasinan is really the best thing to do for our Dagupan and Pangasinan bangus,” Coquia told the committees on agriculture and laws and ordinances chaired respectively by Councilors Lino Fernandez and Jose Netu Tamayo.

Coquia maintained her previous stand that Bulacan bangus should be avoided by consumers in Dagupan as these are fed with chicken dungs which she saw for herself many many times when she and family were vacationing in Bulacan.   

“Makikita mo, tumpok-tumpok na mga chicken manure ang nakahilera sa mga pilapil ng palaisdaan,” she said.

Councilor Cisco Flores chided bangus traders for their unscrupulous misrepresentation of Dagupan bangus citing his sad experience when he bought bangus from the markets of Metro Manila labeled as Dagupan bangus only to realize these were not because they tasted and smelled like mud.    

However, Danella Cayabyab, president of the Dagupan Association of Fish Consignacion Dealers Inc., warned her group will oppose a total ban, citing the principle of free enterprise that no one can stop traders from Bulacan from bringing in their products to Dagupan.

Councilor Karlos Reyna suggested that in lieu of a total ban initially, the tagging policy adopted during the Fernandez administration should be revived to protect the Dagupan bangus brand. 

Coquia doubted Cayabyab’s claim that the Bulacan bangus constitutes only one percent of the total bangus being sold in the city’s markets and cited the risk that the big volume poses to the Dagupan bangus brand.

Lilia Yasar, former barangay captain of Pantal, and a Dagupan bangus grower, lamented thatflooding the markets of Dagupan with Bulacan bangus is pulling down the prices of the Dagupan bangus to the level of Bulacan bangus.

She warned that if Bulacan bangus continues to flood Dagupan, there will be no more Dagupan bangus to be sold in 10 years since growers can no longer recover their costs with reasonable profits. 

Yasar also cited an agreement reached in early 2016 with 33 consignacion members not to allow the sale of bangus from Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Pampanga, Bulacan and Malabon at the Magsaysay Fish market.

City Agriculturist Emma Molina, who read the agreement, said the agreement was reached during the massive fish kill in western Pangasinan and Cayabyab countered that the agreement is no longer in effect.

Cayabyab also proposed a tighter regulation of the alien bangus while allowing their entry in lieu of total ban on Bulacan bangus.

Natalia Dalaten, officer-in-charge of the Department of Trade and Industry, called on the city government to apply for accreditation with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) so that the Dagupan bangus can be issued a Geographical Indication Certificate to further protect the Dagupan bangus brand. (Leonardo Micua)

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