Dagupan fish pen owners given only 3 days to voluntarily demolish their structures

DAGUPAN CITY — The city of Dagupan is now bent on demolishing all illegal fish pens standing on all rivers here after the City Legal Officer issued a final ultimatum giving the owners of these structures only three days after receipt of the notice to voluntarily demolish their pens.

City Legal Officer Victoria Cabrera issued the ultimatum on order of Mayor Belen Fernandez as she revealed that the remaining fish pens in Dagupan City, numbering 43 although standing on titled properties, are a nuisance per se.

It was the mandate of the city government to abate a nuisance in order to protect its citizens from a potential danger, she said.

The notices were already hand carried to individual owners of the remaining fish pens by the office of City Agriculture Officer Emma Molina.

Up to Dec. 16, Molina had yet to give an update who among the pen owners already received their notices and their date of receipt of the same to find out when the three-day countdown started.

Failure of the owners to voluntarily demolish their structures will compel the city government to do the same at their own expense.

Cabrera revealed that the city government will not file cases against the owners of these illegal fish pens and will just proceed on demolishing their structures using the power of the city government under the law to abate a nuisance per se.

She explained that the city will be at a disadvantage when it will sue the fish pen owners individually as the status quo will be observed, which means these structures will continue to stay till the cases against them are resolved by the court, and therefore will still continue to enjoy the fruits of these structures.

She knows how long it will take for a litigation to be resolved, citing her experience as a long-time legal practitioner.

“We will defend the city if the fish pen owners will sue the city for demolishing their fish pens,” she stressed.

Mayor Fernandez is uncompromising in her stand against all the illegal structures in the river.

As a matter of fact, she said, a trawler was already rented by the city government to be used in pulling out bamboo poles deeply embedded in the water, which can not just be removed manually.

Only the fish pens standing on titled properties that were submerged in water were left in the city as those located along navigational lanes were already removed.

The University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UPSMI), which initially conducted reconnaissance survey of all city rivers, was all-praise to the current situation obtaining in these rivers.

Experts of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission are also coming in Dagupan City on Dec. 20 to also look into the city’s river system and to recommend how it can be rehabilitated faster and make it more sustainable for the benefit of small fishermen. Leonardo Micua/PNA-northboundasia.com