Protection racket for ‘alien’ bangus

By Ermin Garcia Jr.


PER Dagupan Mayor Brian Lim, cargo trucks carrying thousands of kilos of bangus weekly imported from outside Pangasinan are again welcome in the city, after only a week’s suspension on account of findings that the unregulated crew and handlers of the delivery trucks are potential carriers of COVID-19.

It turned out from a recent epidemiological testing of the City Health Office that most of the new cases of COVID-19 were vendors and workers at the Magsaysay Fish Market.

But that’s only one side of the story. Cargo trucks were also discovered to be delivering not only in far excess of the volume prescribed in the city ordinance but the fish were also unfit for consumption!

It’s much too obvious that the ordinance allowing bangus from Bulacan, Laguna, Zambales and Pampanga has become a major source of corruption for occupants at the city hall.  The protection racket has made it possible for the resumption of illegal delivery of bangus from other provinces this week without as much introducing enough safeguards to protect the health of Dagupeños and the Dagupan Bangus brand.

Curiously, nothing has been heard from Mayor Lim directing an investigation of the rampant violation of the ordinance being committed by bangus producers in Bulacan, Laguna, etc. Not one alien bangus suppliers has been suspended. Not even an admonition to the city agriculture office for its failure to monitor the enforcement of the city ordinance that prescribes specific volumes.

Ordinance No. 21792019, ironically titled “Ordinance To Protect the Dagupan Bangus Industry and Enhance consumer Information by Regulating the Local Sale of Bangus Sourced from Outside the Geographic Boundaries of the City of Dagupan, Providing Market Schedule and Penalties for Violation Thereof,” allows the entry of “300 banyeras (plastic round vat) on Mondays and 300 banyeras on Fridays of the so-called “extra local” bangus (originating from Bulacan, Rizal and Laguna)”.

Questions worth reiterating here are:

  1. Why is the Lim administration still insisting on allowing inferior bangus from other provinces to sell in the city at the risk of losing the brand quality established for Dagupan bangus?
  2. Is the supply of bangus raised in Dagupan and other towns in Pangasinan not enough to meet the domestic demand?
  3. How much has the city government earned so far for allowing the foreign inferior bangus to be sold in the city?

I sure hope the city councilors who proposed the ordinance can help provide the answers, if Mayor Lim won’t.

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CONTACT-TRACING MEASURES. This week, Dagupan City will start implementing a new protocol for contact-tracing. This involves registration of non-residents arriving through the city’s border checkpoints.  

While this is a welcome move, I seriously doubt if the city government has studied the full impact of this initiative on efforts to reopen the local economy, to the flow of traffic entering the city, and above all, whether the data gathered can be useful to contain the contagion.  

As things stand today, restaurants, malls, groceries in the city are already eliciting those data from both residents and visitors.  Were these used at all in recent contact-tracing by government? If never, why is the city government still duplicating an effort that serves no purpose?

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REACTIVE VS. PREVENTIVE — Besides, contact-tracing is only a reactive measure. It is not preventive. What is preventive is the strict enforcement of both health and physical protocols, and yet we are not seeing palpable measures adopted by the municipal and the city governments to implement these to contain the spread of the virus

Even lockdowns are reactive and only impair normalcy in community life. Containment is reactive, an after-the-fact, when accounts of transmission have been validated. It could have been avoided if only households were complying strictly with the protocols.

An effective preventive measure is to continue the series of news on mainstream and social media about barangay folks, shoppers, market vendors, commuters being brought to the police station for admonition and community service for violating health and safety protocols.  This is different from arresting violators of curfews.

The designation of protocol marshals in a town or city makes for a great occasion to relaunch the preventive campaign contra COVID-19.

Enough of reactive campaigns!

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CREATIVE ENTREPRENEURSHIP — COVID-19 may have brought gloom and hopelessness to some but the pandemic also led to very positive reactions to many, particularly those blessed with entrepreneurial spirit. And mind you, entrepreneurship is not exclusive to those who have the capital to make things work for them.  

Creativity in entrepreneurship is what’s making the difference for some people, affluent or not. There’s no doubt, the moneyed sector has the advantage in attracting attention to their creativity but nothing is more endearing than to see those who have little in life s demonstrate their creativity to sell their products.     

Last week, I thought I saw a vendor from a distance, walking around a neighborhood with plastic bags hanging around his body (neck, shoulder, arms, stomach), shouting, announcing his presence and reciting the stuffs he was selling. Inside those bags were fresh vegetables from the farm!  

Obviously, he knew he stood no chance of selling by sitting around a corner while others with more items to sell are attracting more customers.  

He was selling cheaper to households that would not take a chance to do marketing chores and risk infection. Also, he obviously knew that there are no couriers for veggies, so there he was with specific target customers in mind.  

So, watch out for entrepreneurs like this go-go guy.

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