By December 1, 2020Opinion, Punchline

Official ‘protection’ network in Dagupan

By Ermin Garcia Jr.


IN case you have been fully distracted by efforts of the local governments to restart the economy, and the Christmassy lights on the two main bridges, there are two crises (human and nature) that are waiting to happen in Dagupan City: more drug addicts and families broken and serious flooding in the city because of the proliferation of illegal fish pens in the city’s tributaries. Both are being made possible by the well-entrenched official protection network run by city hall officials and ‘barkada’.

With no one in the city government asking questions about the illegal activities happening right under our and their very noses, one would think, all’s well in the city.  Well, that’s exactly how official crime protection racket operates.

No talk. No mistake. Everybody happy. That’s the mantra for official protection of anything illegal.

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PROTECTION OF ILLEGAL DRUGS. At no time in the past in Dagupan City have we been told of existence of numerous one-stop shop-cum-drug dens in barangays. Well, we are learning about it today. The recent accidental discoveries of drug dens by PDEA and PNP operatives in Bonuan districts after successful buy-bust operations on high value targets are clear indicators of the extent of the official protection extended by political leadership (from the barangay to the city level).

No drug den in a barangay can possibly operate with such impunity unless it enjoys the full protection of the barangay officials, city officials and the police.  Know that a drug den operation is nothing anything close to street pushing of illegal drugs. Unlike street peddling, a drug den offers safe have to drug users, away from the prying eyes of family members. Street pushers leave one to his personal preferences on how to use the purchased drugs. 

What’s more worrisome is the information that some of the arrested suspects caught peddling and inside raided drug dens are known to be close allies of the city’s officials. Again, this information alone tells us how extensive the protection network has become.

The situation brings me back to the account of one market vendor more than 7 years ago. She lamented that her son had been stealing in her home to support his drug addiction.  Her dilemma – should she report her son to the police or leave it to the police to find out about her son? What, indeed, can or should a mother do?

With the discovery of two one-stop shop drug dens so far in two months, one can imagine how many families are being broken every day because the drug dens provide protection for their daily customers.

But why doesn’t the discovery of drug dens seem to affect the Brian Lim administration? No one is being held to account for the existences of these drug dens. Is it because the payola to city, barangay and police officials has “leveled up”?

If Mr. Lim refuses to make anyone accountable, then this corner is calling out Mr. Lim as the ultimate city official responsible and accountable for the proliferation of the one-stop shop drug dens in Dagupan City.  

Mr. Lim must be faulted for the increasing number of families being broken every day because of the protected illegal drug problem in the city.

Paging DILG chief Sec. Eduardo Año, PNP chief Debold Sinas, PDEA chief Wilkins Villanueva! The official protection racket is rearing its many ugly heads!

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PROTECTION OF ILLEGAL FISH PENS. Then, there is the blatant promotion of operation of illegal fish pens in the city. The last time I looked, the city has an ordinance specifying penalties for operating an illegal fish pen anywhere in the city’s tributaries.

But not a single illegal fish pen owner has been cited since the Lim administration took over.  There must already more than 500 owners. But why haven’t even the members of the Flood Mitigation Commission shown any concern about the contributory factor of illegal fish pen operations to severe flooding in the city.

Driving through the JdV Highway alone, one can see hundreds of bags of commercial fish feeds being dropped off daily for delivery to fish pens in island barangays. Again, what is the City Agriculture Office doing about these illegal fish pens? Simply collecting payola for all?

The large volume of fish feeds being dropped into the rivers daily should already indicate how shallower our river beds have become today. With no serious dredging of the city’s rivers, city residents can expect with certainly at least a one-meter high flooding in markets, city streets, subdivisions and fishponds after a 2-day non-stop rain brought by typhoons. Past experiences have told us about these.

Is the shelving of the city ordinance pertaining to operations of illegal fish pens an official policy of the Lim administration?  If so, then DILG City Director Marilyn Laguico must report this to DILG Director James Fadrilan. After all, clearing of rivers to protect nature, is part and parcel of the latest directive of DILG Sec. Año.  Or has Ms. Laguico already been coopted by the official protection network, too? Just wondering.

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On a personal note:

  1. I see the continued rise in COVID-19 cases in Dagupan City pointing to one thing: The city and barangay officialdom are not the least serious, neither deeply involved in the campaign to see to the strict enforcement of the health and safety protocols established by IATF. The success stories of the 18 towns and Alaminos City with no COVID cases throughout are my arguments to the Dagupan City government.

  2. I cannot but fully agree with Chino Samson, the 5th topnotcher in the recent medical board exams and Bayambang’s new idol, on his thoughts about promdis. Indeed, being a promdi compared to urbanized students, should not be taken as a handicap but as a challenge that one can be so much better for himself. I was a full-bred promdi when I was accepted by Ateneo conditionally in 1965 for my college education. All around me were Ateneo high school graduates. I was determined not to fail by comparison. And I’d like to believe, it was my being a promdi that enabled me to achieve more for myself in school. I’m sure I was not alone. Congratulations Promdi Chipoi of LNU!

  3. With the ‘calibrated’ policy on checkpoints between borders in Pangasinan, I wish P/Col. Red Maranan would look into the steel barriers installed by the Malasiqui PNP at the Sta. Barbara boundary checkpoint and the intersection leading to the Arenas Farm now pose serious hazards to motorists. In both checkpoints, assigned police details simply ignore any and all vehicles passing through. All a serious waste of human resources in useless checkpoints.

  4.  Kudos to Bayambang Mayor Cezar Quiambao for daring to do what was not expected of mayors – to establish that community-based Learning Enhancement Program that seeks to drill town’s students on the subjects that would matter most in life after school – English language, Math and Science! Being a successful hard-nosed business executive, he knows the formula for success in adult life – the ability to communicate in English (and soon in Mandarin), ability to apply math as a scientific tool in any undertaking, to develop an open mind to science as a door opener for application of modern technology. With these tools, one is, indeed, assured of a bright future regardless of the students’ present financial status.

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