Sustainability of Dagupan bangus is crucial

By Ermin Garcia Jr.


DAGUPAN bangus has not been easy to source over the past weeks since these were sold at giveaway prices during the early days of the flooding in the city. The fish farmers were forced to harvest early since the fishponds threatened to overflow! Nothing new. We’ve seen this before.

Then came the realization and suspicion that the unusual extended severe flooding was caused mainly by the backfilling of many fishponds in the targeted growth centers in Dagupan’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan. There may be some truths to it since fishponds also served the purpose as catch basins, and backfilling them would leave flood water seeking its level everywhere.

But even with that in mind, everyone overlooked the fact that the felt scarce supply of Dagupan bangus could also be largely due to the number of fishponds that have been backfilled.

This is what we pointed out in our editorial in this week’s issue.

The fate of the Dagupan bangus now hangs in the balance. With fewer supply, the price of Dagupan bangus can be expected to rise to as much as P200 a kilo in due time. But that may not perhaps be as bad as waking up one day and you can’t satisfy your craving because your suki only had a handful to sell and these were easily sold. So nothing can be more horrific than being told to enjoy bangus from Bolinao or Anda or Sual in the meantime.

To avert the imminent loss of Dagupan bangus as a daily fare, there must be some regulations of how many fishponds can be allowed to be converted and where.  The agriculturists can determine how many bangus fishponds should be maintained in the city if we are to save Dagupan bangus from extinction.

Hopefully, the city councilors take this as a new critical issue on top of regulating backfilling of fishponds. They should view these not as any ordinary fishponds being backfilled but Dagupan bangus fishponds.

If we don’t, then woe is the next generation of Dagupeños who won’t be enjoying Dagupan bangus as we do today… and the only way to restore Dagupan bangus would be to dig up backfilled fishponds.

With sincere apologies to a biblical verse found in Mark 8:36-38, may I respectfully paraphrase it as: “What profits a city gain if it gains more investments but loses that which helped make its character?

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ULTIMATUM COUNCILORS.  Speaking of the Dagupan City councilors, their constant failure to mean what they say when they threaten “final ultimatum”, is making them suspect.

Their continued failure to enforce the ordinance prohibiting operation of bus terminals within 200 meters from an intersection is inviting public suspicion after several extended “ultimatum” deadlines for over a year.  They are giving the public the impression that enforcement of ordinances in the city are negotiable and transactional. A random check of all major intersections in the city show that the ordinance is flouted by all PUBs and PUJs… and yes tricycles.  Is someone in the city council or city hall raking it in daily? 

What I find totally incredible is the mindset among city officials that the city government has to restrain itself if the subject for enforcement is the subject of a litigation between two private parties.  Instead of punishing all parties for violating an ordinance, the city hall is stepping back and allows contesting parties to continue violating the ordinance. 

I refer to the argument that since Solid North filed a case against Victory Liner for refusing to allow it use of the access road behind their terminals, the city government feels it should allow the two parties to continue violating the ordinance and allow the court to settle the case before enforcing the ordinance. Wrong!

The enforcement of the ordinance is completely irrelevant to the case filed in court.

The city councilors should have ordered the closure of the terminals from the time the first ultimatum was ignored. (In the first place, is there anything in the ordinance that says an ultimatum has to be issued before it can be enforced?).

It didn’t help that we have an assistant city legal officer who reportedly reminded all parties that all actions are subject to question in court. Duh? Can anyone stop the government from enforcing a legally adopted ordinance? If any of the bus companies dare seek a restraining order, the city government is entitled to seek damages and sue the company as well for millions!

This mindset, in fact, was (and continues?) to be applied in the case of one illegal fish pen that the city agriculture office refused to demolish all because the ownership of the area where fish pen is built is being contested in court.  So, there is this one big fish pen that was exempted and allowed to pollute the river…to this day (?). (Since the city government is looking into the heavy siltation of the city’s rivers, the city council might as look into this illegal fish pen’s operation whether it has been contributing to the siltation of the Pantal and Calmay Rivers that caused the extended flooding in the city).

I’m hoping that there is (and was) no currency negotiation going on between members of the city council and representatives of the bus companies, and the illegal fish pen owners and the city agriculture office so deliberate enforcement of ordinances can be expected.

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CCTV, NOW A MUST! The continued difficulty of the Dagupan police to identify perpetrators of violent crimes brings us back to the need to install as many CCTV cameras in our communities, particularly by business establishments.

If the Dagupan City or any city government wants to project itself convincingly that the city is the place to invest in, the place to raise a family, then it must show that it has the capability to make it so.

Criminal minds must know that the city is a dangerous place for their criminal activities.

The city councils should perforce pass an ordinance requiring the installation of a CCTV camera at the entrance of an establishment, particularly restaurants and eateries, before a business permit can be issued. In the same vein, the city government should be allocated funds for the installation of CCTV cameras in all major street/road intersections in the city.

The MMDA has already taken the use of CCTV system to heart when it adopted its “No contact” arrest because violators are caught on camera.

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NO DRUG-CLEARED TOWN/CITY. The relentless campaign of Pangasinan police and PDEA vs. war on drugs is both reassuring and heartening for our families.

Let’s forget about the drug-cleared status granted towns and cities last year. That was in the past. Drug syndicates operate for the present and the future.  The threats to families are ever present for as long as there are people who want to earn the easy way.  It’s safer to assume that no town/city is drug-cleared from hereon, and make barangay kapitans accountable!

That drug peddling has become a livelihood and, therefore, is far more threatening than it just being illegal.

To give the current campaign some impetus, it would still be a good idea to again declare a 2–day moratorium for drug personalities within which to surrender to avoid arrest and avail of treatment and rehabilitation.

As in the past, the local governments, PNP, DOH and PDEA will also have to be called upon to continue organizing community-based rehabilitation programs in their localities for the surrenderers.

Meanwhile, on behalf of a grateful citizenry, I bid our police and PDEA…GOOD HUNTING!!

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