No community pantries in cities?

By April 27, 2021Punchline

By Ermin Garcia Jr.


THE concept of establishing community pantries in neighborhoods is already catching fire across the country.

Why aren’t there many community pantries in the towns and cities in Pangasinan where a handful of civic, religious, professional groups thrive? The community pantry as a concept is what I would think our civic/community groups can easily duplicate since it does not require reinvention of concept, permission from the originators, permits from local governments, or impose on anyone to support the activities.

The concept is very simple! Find a place in the barangay where one can organize free but regulated distribution of donated food (fresh, frozen or canned) to anyone in need of food on the table, to alleviate the difficulties being experienced by the families during the pandemic.

Many families in Pangasinan have lost means of livelihood, too!

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WILL MAGIC AND CSI PLEDGE TO HELP?  It’s bad enough that the covid pandemic is already wreaking havoc on mental health of many members of the family, but the daily desperation for food for members of the family is a daily real battle.

 Why it is taking archdioceses and other religious sects so long to join the bandwagon, to adopt this concept? After all, aren’t they sworn to live and breathe the words of God – to love and serve mankind. Or is that an outdated thought?

 And will the groups of Rotarians, Jaycees, lawyers, accountants, doctors, Knights of Columbus, social action centers, please come forward to prove that their pledges of community service is not all about mere lip service?

 For starters, let’s hear from the Magic Group of Companies and CSI Group of Companies to make pledges to support community pantries in the province. Surely, an initial P1-M worth of food donated through the community pantries won’t make a dent in their bottomline profits.

 Or is it too much to ask of those who have more means in life and in a better position to help and empathize with those are who less in life at this time?  

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FESTIVAL WITOUT A CROWD. The presidential declaration from Malacanang, signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, declaring April 30 a non-working holiday in Dagupan City has made it clear that the celebration of Bangus Festival does not exempt the city government from the enforcement and implementation of the health and distance protocols

Executive Secretary Medialdea has made those conditions crystal clear!

So, pray tell, how does the Lim administration intend to celebrate Bangus Festival with the restrictions and prohibitions for the celebration? Is setting up Pandaragupan Tribe in Barangay Tapuac the front cover for an unforgettable celebration??

Festivals are about thousands of people converging in one area to celebrate.  So can the city have a festival without throng of spectators?

If a celebration without thousands of people converging is not possible, then what is all that declaration of a one-day non-working holiday without a line-up of official activities organized by the city government to entertain spectators?

If no real festival is being seriously planned, then it can only be about creating the false impression that the Dagupan bangus industry is thriving in the city, because it is not.

What’s thriving in Dagupan is the Bulacan bangus industry that has since taken over the Dagupan bangus market here in Pangasinan and elsewhere. Bulacan bangus is being passed off as the cheaper Dagupan bangus!

If that’s the reality on the ground as attested to local bangus growers and fish vendors, what and who will be served by a Bangus Festival?

The Bulacan bangus traders and their corrupt partners in the city, of course.

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In brief, the fake Bangus Festival being foisted on the city and the international market is nothing but a cover-up of the rampant corruption initially served by the City Ordinance No. 21792019 passed by the Dagupan Sanggunian in October  2019,  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”.  (The title should make you puke because of the deliberate attempt to deceive the city populace).

 The authors of the ordinance: Councilors Marcelino Fernandez and Jose Netu Tamayo have not even called for an investigation of the reported rampant violations of the ordinance. Their inaction speaks volumes of the compromise that accompanied the passage of that ordinance.  

 Early on, we already warned of the impending take-over of the bangus industry by outsiders, particularly Bulacan bangus traders, because the ordinance was hurriedly passed even in the face of objections brought forward by real stakeholders against the ordinance.   

 What we truly found most unusual was seeing the city government going out of its way to risk the viability of the city’s main agriculture product – bangus – when previous past administrations did all to protect and make the industry viable!

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LEGACY VS PECUNIARY INTERESTS. It looks like Mayor Brian Lim couldn’t care less if the legacy left by his father Mayor Benjie who launched the worldwide promotion of Dagupan bangus is tattered to pieces. It was the legacy that was continued and improved on by Mayor Benjie’s own political arch enemy, Mayor Belen Fernandez.

In a sharp contrast, Mayor Brian pulled all stakes that would stand in the way of his desire to promote his personal and his barkada’s pecuniary benefits from the exploitation of  Dagupan bangus brand by outsiders. Mayor Brian’s father must be turning in his grave for seeing his son deliberately shitting on his legacy.

I did laugh at the hypocrisy of the authors and allies of Mayor Brian in the city council who tried to impress upon stakeholders that regulations and limits were set for the entry of alien bangus to be sold in the city’s fish markets to protect the local industry. They, more than anyone else, knew that there was no way the city government can monitor the enforcement of the delivery of bangus cargo into the city on a daily or weekly basis. They knew it was going to be much easier to make the gatekeepers turn a blind eye to the daily deliveries of bangus cargo from Bulacan.

Bluntly, the ordinance as intended, opened the floodgates to feed on the greed of city officials. It was the foundation for regular kickbacks from the Bulacan bangus traders. Proof? The Magsaysay Market is swamped with Bulacan bangus every day when the ordinance said Bulacan bangus can only be accommodated on two days only!

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COVER-UP. No matter how you view the hosting of the 2021 edition of the Bangus Festival, it reeks with another corruption. It is actually nothing but an attempt to cover-up the monthly multi-million kickback operations of the Bulacan traders, courtesy of the Lim administration and its allies, without a trace.

 It’d be interesting to know the details of Mr. Lim’s budget for the holding of the Bangus Festival will be when there are no activities organized, i.e., no festival  parades, usual competitions among bangus growers, cook-outs, music bands, etc.  I won’t be surprised, in fact, if Mr. Lim turns around and boasts that the stakeholders are hosting the events at no costs to the city government. But what he won’t tell you is that the stakeholders who are prepared to pick up the tabs are actually from Bulacan, the Bulacan bangus industry stakeholders – beneficiaries of 2021 Bangus Festival.

 Niloloko na naman ni Mayor Lim at ng barkada nya ang Dagupan!   

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