DAGUPAN CITY – A group of fish pen operators asked for "due process" from this city’s mayor who recently unilaterally ordered the demolition of their pens that they claimed are located in titled properties.
They said they asked for an audience with Mayor Belen Fernandez before she orders the demolition of their 10-hectare pens which they said cost tens of millions of pesos.
A demand notice dated January 30 sent by Emma Molina, task leader of this city’s Bantay Ilog Task Force to one of the members of Dagupan Bangus Growers Fishpond and Fishpen Association (DABAGFFA) told the members that their fish pens are located in an area that is part of the river system and thus beyond the commerce of man.
“Demand is hereby made that you transfer your stocks or harvest the same within 15 days from receipt of this notice. Failure to do so gives authority to this city government to demolish your structure or the subject area at your expense,” the notice stressed.
Jose Antonio Caneng, DABAGFFA president, said his members, who vigorously supported Mayor Fernandez in the last mayoral contest, appealed to the mayor to give them a chance for a dialogue.
He said the mayor would dislocate roughly 1000 workers and court the inflationary effect on the prices of bangus (milkfish) this coming summer and Holy Week in case the demolition of their structures push through.
DABAGFFA Vice President Erwin Dee said the fish pens under his organization cover almost 10 hectares that have been titled. He explained that these pens used to be fishponds but were eroded because of inundation cause by natural calamities and wear and tear of the soil.
Caneng said DABAGFFA has 20 members
He said it would do injustice to them if the mayor just order the demolition of their pens since they are legitimate owners who have land titles and environmental certificates.
“We are not the same with those illegal fish structures that build their pens without pertinent documents to show,” he said.
“Itong mga property na ito sa pagkaka-alam ko minana pa nila sa kanilang mga magulang. Negosyo ito naging investment para profit hindi naman puedeng basta basta alisin kaagad in 15 days. Sana pinag-usapan talaga para safe”, one of them said.
He said Mayor Fernandez should have asked first the sentiment of the members of DABAGFFA before she arbitrarily ordered the destruction of their properties.
Canning said incase the demolition push through the price of Bangus will spike to P120-P125 per kilo this summer because the supply of the sumptuous Dagupan milkfish will go down.