Punchline

A father-and-son story

By Ermin Garcia Jr.

THE blasted illegal fish pens along the Calmay River during the Belen Fernandez administration are back with a vengeance!

And if I’m not mistaken, these are the same illegal fish pens that were allowed to mushroom (and protected by the City Agriculturist Emma Molina) during former Mayor Benjie Lim’s administration in complete contravention of the city ordinance.

OK, as they say in politics, it’s weder-weder lang except that today’s resurgence of the illegal fish pens have far more serious implications to the administration of Mayor Brian Lim, the son, than to his father, Mayor BSL.

Firstly, Mayor Brian cannot wash his hands once the city gets flooded by prolonged monsoon rains. It’s been proven that the shallow riverbeds around the city where illegal fish pens operate cause the floodwater to flow out of the channel and seek its level on the  mainland. This was what the four DPWH dredging machines have been trying to correct over the past 6 six years!

With the return of the illegal fish pens, Mayor Brian will definitely soon bear the brunt of public outrage.  That’s not a threat, it’s a promise from the DPWH! Ironically, wasn’t flooding the main issue Mayor Brian raised against former Mayor Belen but he now risks seeing those accusing fingers pointing at him in no time.

Then there is the case of City Agriculturist Emma Molina. She has been in the middle of the illegal fish pen issue for the past 12 years. Her willful compliance with the unlawful order of the city mayor makes her fully accountable to the law. If the Duterte administration can find mayors accountable for illegal occupancy of streets and sidewalks, she too can be held accountable for continued operations of illegal fish pens in complete defiance of the city ordinance protecting the environment. Pointing to the city mayor as the source of the illegal order won’t help her since she has seen the lawful solution to the continued operations of illegal fish pens.

Then there is the city council that will have to account for its own failure to challenge the office of the city mayor and make the latter accountable for protecting owners of illegal fish pens. Committee chairman Councilor Lino Fernandez will have to choose to act for the city or suffer the ignominy of being known as inutile legislator.

While Mayor Brian’s father may have gotten away with his illegal order in the past, it will  be a different story for him because the city already learned its lessons.

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Still speaking of father-and-son Lim story at the Dagupan City hall, a stark contrast looms, however, between them on the issue of protecting and promoting Dagupan bangus.

Mayor BSL, the father, being the visionary marketing genius, took an active lead role in promoting Dagupan bangus to the world. To his credit, he launched the Bangus Festival to give the local product the branding it needed. And to the credit of his successor, Mayor Belen Fernandez, a noted businesswoman herself, saw the merit of promoting Dagupan bangus through the annual festival and other initiatives to improve on the branding efforts every year.

But today, under the stewardship of Mayor Brian, the son, more alien bangus, particularly bangus from Bulacan, have been allowed to have its place in the city, intruding into the promotion of Dagupan bangus! 

Evidently, concerted efforts to promote the Dagupan bangus brand by his father and his predecessor, are already paying off.  Obviously, the Bulacan bangus traders see an opporutnity to ride on the popularity of the Dagupan bangus, by attempting to pass off their bangus as Dagupan bangus.

With the evident permission from the city hall for some business “consideration”, the Bulacan bangus traders have the chance to mix their inferior bangus with the Dagupan bangus when selling to residents. Of course, Dagupeños would eventually know but only after they have been conned into buying them from local vendors in the know.

But as Eduardo Maramba, president of the Fishpond Owners Operators and Fisherfolk of Dagupan City, Inc., correctly observed, why would the Bulacan bangus traders insist on bringing them farther to Dagupan when Navotas market is just less than an hour away.

Why Dagupan, indeed, not Navotas? The Bulacan traders obviously find it more profitable to travel this far for the chance to pass on their bangus in Navotas as Dagupan bangus since their cargo trucks are made to appear as having arrived from Dagupan City. Hmmm…

So smart of them, woe to the Dagupan bangus brand. There lies the contrast between father- and-son Lim.  Soon world domestic and world market will no longer trust Dagupan bangus brand because the Lim government today did nothing to protect the brand.

What could be the motivation? Quick bucks for the city hall? If so, then that’s where the contrast ends, and similarity begins in the father-and-son governance.

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