See nothing, hear nothing, do nothing

By September 10, 2023Punchline

By Ermin Garcia Jr.


WHO says there are no illegal fish pens in Dagupan City? The elected city officials.

They know there is an elephant in the room but no one seems to see it.

I refer to the thousands of illegal fish pens already operating in and around the city’s island barangays and no one among the city’s elected officials seems to care that these illegal operations are one of the causes of severe flooding in the city.

Never mind that the operators are violating the city ordinance and are not paying the city government its due in business taxes but they are irresponsibly dumping thousands of commercial feeds on the city’s tributaries daily and the city government has been turning a blind eye to these.

But why did the Belen Fernandez administration decide not to pursue her campaign promise to dismantle and demolish all the illegal fish pens tolerated and protected by the Brian Lim administration? That made many wonder why.

Has Mayor Belen decided to sustain the protection that her predecessor provided the affluent illegal fish pen operators? For what consideration? Or much like what the councilors are getting who refused to make the city government account for the continued operations of the illegal fish pens?

To this day, she refuses to include the heavy siltation caused by the illegal fish pen operations as the reason for the dredging.

So, I dare the Flood Mitigation Commission formed by Mayor Belen, all the councilors and the DPWH engineers to tell Dagupeños that it is not so, that the heavy siltation in the city’s tributaries is not caused by the daily dumping of commercial feeds on the river, that it is not a major factor that caused severe flooding in the city last month.

I hope they realize they cannot deny this fact because the river and the thousands of illegal fish pens are there before them, while the owners are laughing all the way to the bank backed by the miseries of Dagupeños.

The elephant hasn’t moved because the city officials see nothing, hear nothing, do nothing!!

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WANTED: DEDICATED CITY LEGAL OFFICER.  It didn’t help that the city government employed a City Legal Officer that has not recommended the filing of cases vs the illegal fish pen operators. Who is Atty Aurora Valle protecting? Friends of ex-Mayor Brian? And heaven forbid, friends of Mayor Belen?

CLO Valle finally tried to vindicate herself as a pro-good governance advocate after she publicly declared her office was preparing to file cases vs persons who were documented to have violated Anti-Graft and Corruption Act during the Lim administration, and against the seven members of the majority in the Sangguniang Panlungsod for committing acts inimical to the interests of the city government. That was supposed to boost her integrity as a public servant.  But suddenly, she became a mute and deaf legal officer.  No cases filed. No explanation given.

Nobody heard Mayor Belen saying she was acting on any recommendation of the city legal officer.  Hearing none, accountability on the filing rests on her because neither she nor Mayor Belen said no cases will be filed after announcing they would.

Who stopped her from filing the cases? Friends of ex-Mayor Brian? Friends of Mayor Belen? For what consideration? She must know that failing to do what the city government demands of her tarnished the image of Mayor Belen’s administration.

Curiously, Mayor Belen unabashedly showed extreme fondness for her on the occasion of her birthday in spite of what the public has seen about her. Is it possible that the mayor’s fondness for her is in return for her willingness not to file the cases against the enemies of the city? Was she ordered?

Atty. Valle must be reminded that she is accountable to the people of Dagupan that pay her salary, not just personally accountable to the city mayor. Like Mayor Belen and the city councilors, they  are accountable to the people.

If Mayor Belen appreciates her dedicated service to her, then nothing stops her from making her as her personal consultant like former city budget officer Luz de Guzman. But Atty. Valle is doing a great disservice to Dagupeños for continuously refusing to perform her mandated duties. If, indeed, she’s happy being a personal legal consultant to the mayor, then she should resign and be with Mayor Belen 24/7 on a personal basis.

The city needs a dedicated city legal officer who will do as mandated – to make recommendations and to pursue legal process as directed by the city executive.  Atty. Valle hasn’t done any of it but to be by the mayor’s side.

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SOON P20 PER KILO? There is no doubt that all households in the country are happiest with PBBM’S populist E.O. No.39. Who wouldn’t? The mandated price cap represents 15-20% discount of commercial rice.

To be able to buy what’s being sold for P55 for only P41-P45 today is surreal. (Soon P20?)

But they are not entirely happy knowing that their earned 20% discount is not out of the goodness of the Marcos Jr.  administration but at at the expense of the rice vendor doing legitimate business, who has a family to feed, accountabilities to pay, to send children to school.

But soon, even their happiness will be short-lived when told next week that many of the vendors have “run out of stock” of the P41-P45 milled rice. The discounted price is there but with no rice available to buy, what’s there to enjoy?  The vendors will understandably either hold back buying more from their suppliers to replenish their inventory or will simply limit the number of stock that can be offered at the mandated price cap. And when they do, it’s not a crime to keep one’s family resources intact.

Not even the promised P15K subsidy from the Marcos Jr. government is enough to prompt them to lose everything.

We all know how government subsidies are implemented. These come too late in the day and only the favored vendors (including those who didn’t comply) of the LGU get theirs first, while other legitimate vendors are told to wait. Chances are some legit rice vendors won’t even get their share and they have no recourse.

On the ground the major rice retailer, P15k is not enough to cover losses over a week’s sale on mandated price caps. But P15K is more than enough for rice vendors that only sells a few kilos every day.

Meanwhile, there’s no news from both the national and provincial government that efforts are being made to clear warehouses of hoarded rice that can be sold for P20 a kilo!

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