Dagupan is ‘Tabon’ city

By Ermin Garcia Jr.


IF one were to believe that the rush to backfill (tabon) fishponds in Dagupan was the cause of the recent severe flooding in the city, one begins to wonder whether the severe and killer floods across the world were also caused by mindless tabon in those countries as well. Nothing can be farther from the truth. It’s a ridiculous thought but don’t be surprised if the naïve among us believe it to be so!

Backfilling of fishponds in Dagupan City has been going on since post World War II! In fact, the city is what it is today because of tabon! In pre-war days, Dagupan was largely 80% fishponds, with no visible economic and infrastructure development in sight. It was the vision of early political leaders and entrepreneurs to transform the city into a major trading center that led to backfilling of fishponds.

But now comes the talk of tabon being bannered as the major political issue in the city in the light of the 2019 elections. And as would be expected and in the absence of concrete corruption issues against the Fernandez administration, “tabon” easily became the new fave talking point being peddled through idle minds.

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CATCH BASIN AS KEY. Backfilling of fishponds only becomes relevant to the flooding issue only to the extent that it reduces the visible availability of catch basins for normal rate of rainfall.  Note: normal rainfall rate!

Absence of catch basins, however, is easily mitigated by effective dredging of rivers, clear passages of canals and waterways, again for normal and average level of rainfall.

But the case of Dagupan has become too complex. As a catch basin, it has to contend with amount of flood and rain water that flows from the mountains and cascades through the volume of towns’ own level flood and rain water.

It is on this note that we must remind the city’s political leadership to take advantage of the good weather obtaining today to further seek agreements with other local governments on how to minimize and control the flow of flood water to the Lingayen Gulf.

At the same time, the city engineering office should initiate daily consultations with barangays on the need to clear waterways, sewage systems and canals, including identification of sites where artificial catch basins can be constructed in all barangays.

The climate change is upon us. Debating its presence is already a waste of time if not totally senseless.  We need to be extremely pro-active because the city has been warned that another round of extreme weather conditions and level of rainfall can already be very destructive to both lives and properties.  

For the local economy, nothing can be more reassuring for potential investors than to see communities as proactive in meeting the challenges of climate change.

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WANTED: MODEL ENFORCER OF RULES.  The increasing number of people rushing to commercial centers, malls and shopping centers in the cities of Dagupan, San Carlos, Urdaneta and Alaminos, should already call attention to the need of local governments to focus on setting order in the streets.

Out there is a constant battle for space between motorists, vendors and pedestrians. It is no longer enough to just let the three sectors fend for themselves even knowing that the sector that is most affected are the pedestrians.

The vendors occupy the sidewalks, leaving barely a space for the walking public, forcing them to take to the streets for faster and easier mobility.

When pedestrians take to the streets, they risk being hit or harassed by motorists who in turn risk being in the middle of a road rage as they race for space for their vehicles to be able to get to their destination. And with no strict enforcement of the use of pedestrian lanes and refusal of motorists to give pedestrians safe priority when crossing on pedestrian lanes, what we have is complete anarchy in the streets.

What can be more frustrating particularly for the motorists and pedestrians is to see police and traffic enforcers refusing to enforce ordinances on traffic and against illegal occupation of sidewalks by vendors.

Hopefully, one of the four cities can set the example and standard on how the three sectors can be managed to keep peace and order in the city streets.

Who will be the model? Dagupan? San Carlos, Urdaneta or Alaminos?

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QUIETER NEW YEAR.  It looks like our 2019 New Year will be quieter this time around.

President Duterte already alerted local governments about need to crack down on illegal firecracker manufacturers and vendors as people look forward to the New Year merrymaking.

PDU3O issued the order through M.O No. 31 signed on October 29, directing the PNP and local governments to stop issuing new permits and licenses for the “manufacture, distribution, sale and use of firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices” and to strictly enforce all laws and ordinances related to firecrackers. 

It is unlikely that the President will modify the order. This is one President who dared order the complete ban of manufacture, distribution, sale and use of firecrackers, as in ALL firecrackers, in Davao City, and city residents could not have been happier since the ban was ordered.

Dagupan has its traditional manufacturers of firecrackers and their investment in producing the firecrackers this year will see their biggest losses yet if they don’t assess the situation for themselves prudently.

In fact, even policemen on duty may find themselves risking being suspended if a netizen catches them on camera standing by exploding firecrackers where there shouldn’t be.  And habitual users of firecrackers may no longer be as daring this year because local police have already tried and succeeded in arresting residents violating ordinances on safety, health and loss of properties.

Recall that the police in Dagupan City collared herded more than 700 persons to the astrodome for warnings on various offenses, from jaywalking, drinking on the streets, smoking in public areas, shirtless men, etc.

Surely, arresting users and sellers of firecrackers would be a cinch for the city police with no outcry against violation of human rights.

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RANTINGS WITH NO SOLUTIONS. Last week, opposition senator wannabe Erin Tañada was in town to rant against the Duterte government, thinking that it will buoy his hopes of earning more votes. Wrong.

It normally would but this time, he and his compatriots must already realize that their constant ranting through mainstream and social media have already lost their novelty. Everyone in the political opposition has been heard and seen replaying rants that range from the economy to peace and order to foreign policies. The only difference is found in the tone of their voices.

So far, not a single opposition sitting senator and wannabe has shown solutions to the problems they identified except through promises. They rant against the war on drugs yet they could not explain how they failed in combating illegal drugs; they berate the administration for its failure to assert the country’s sovereignty over West Philippine Sea but could not show how it can regain the contested territory after it failed to do so when it was still possible; they blame the administration for the inflation but could not illustrate how it can be helped in the face of global trade wars, and how to do catch-up in infrastructure development in the country.

Next time a member of the ‘Opposition Koalisyon’ comes around, remember to ask him/her how they propose to do things differently. Right now the opposition in both Houses of Congress have failed miserably in performing their role as catalysts and fiscalizers. They were pure and simple obstructionists for political purposes.

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