Goodbye Dagupan bangus
By Leonardo Micua
WHILE Dagupan City is about to celebrate its Bangus Festival on April 30, the Dagupan bangus growers and vendors, particularly the vendors at the Magsaysay Fish Market, came out in the local media lamenting the order of things in local markets. They have been complaining of earning less because the city is now swamped with Bulacan bangus.
The fish vendors have long reported and howling about the unabated smuggling of Bulacan bangus into the Magsaysay Market despite an ordinance enacted by the city council in 2019 that limits to 600 kilograms the volume of bangus that traders from Bulacan can bring into Dagupan, and only on Mondays and Fridays.
The fish vendors confessed they have since been having a hard time selling the Dagupan bangus even if it is many times more superior in quality and taste than the Bulacan-produced bangus..
We know that because of the pandemic, households are given little or no choice at all but to settle for the cheaper Bulacan bangus, which are sometimes being passed on as Dagupan bangus.
The worsening situation prompted the fish growers and vendors to call on the city government to strictly regulate if not ban completely the Bulacan bangus in the Magsaysay Fish Market. They warned that if the situation is not corrected soon and fast, our own Dagupan bangus may soon be breathing its last.
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Time and again, we hear of reports of trucks loaded with undocumented bangus from Bulacan, being intercepted along the highways before they can unload their cargo at the Magsaysay Market.
Worse, in most cases, shipments are far exceeding the volume allowed by the ordinance and, therefore, a violation. If, indeed, the Magsaysay Market is teeming with Bulacan bangus, it can only mean that traders have been smuggling in the Bulacan bangus with the help of corrupt fish traders operating in the city, and or guards manning the entry points.
We recall one report about a fish truck that managed to slip past checkpoints that was found in Sitio Calamiong in Bonuan Gueset about to transfer its cargo to a waiting motor boat that would land at the bank of the Pantal river, just in front of the fish market.
The obvious strategy of the Bulacan fish traders is to make it appear that their shipment is sourced from the local fishponds to deceive vendors that that the “Dagupan bangus” that they brought in are from Sitio Calamiong, to cheat on consumers buying this product.
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With the daily smuggling of Bulacan bangus reported by no less by the fish vendors themselves, the city government’s decision to still hold Dagupan Bangus Festival on April 30 could be just another ploy to cover-up the rampant corruption that’s killing the city’s bangus product. There is no Dagupan bangus industry being promoted but Bulacan bangus, so why not call it Bulacan Bangus Festival in Dagupan, they say, if the tsunami of Bulacan-produced bangus getting into Dagupan cannot be stopped.
The fish vendors have, in fact, just sounded the alarm bell that if the city government does not act fast to stop the smuggling of Bulacan bangus into the city daily, the Dagupan bangus, the city’s prime agricultural product, will soon be extinct.
Eduardo Maramba, one of the biggest producers of Dagupan bangus, already warned the city council when the proposed ordinance was still being discussed. He pointed to the inevitable smuggling of alien bangus into the city to the disadvantage of local growers of Dagupan bangus once the ordinance allowing “limited volume” of Bulacan-produced bangus into the city is passed.
In one of the hearings conducted by the SP, Mr. Maramba wondered why the Bulacan bangus producers are being given the privilege when Dagupan, together with bangus grown in other parts of Pangasinan, are able to supply enough to meet local demand?
He added, why should Bulacan bangus growers be allowed to sell in Dagupan when the city of Navotas, considered the major fish market in Luzon, is just a few kilometers from Bulacan?
The councilors did not heed Mr. Maramba’s warning.
So, today the April 30 celebration of the Dagupaan Bangus Festival could be the last nail in the coffin for the city’s agricultural product.
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