Dagupan legal officer: All fish pens must go

DAGUPAN CITY — All illegal fish pens of Dagupan built along rivers must go irrespective of whether or not they are standing on titled properties.

This was the initial opinion of City Legal Officer Victoria Cabrera as to the issue on 63 titled fish pens located along rivers supposedly standing on lands that are titled, confirming that the Oct. 30 deadline on fish pens issued by Mayor Belen Fernandez applies to all fish pens along all waterways in Dagupan.

Cabrera will meet with City Agriculture Officer Emma Molina and City Assessor Roland Soni on Tuesday to discuss with them the proper guidelines on how to carry out the order of Mayor Fernandez for the clearing of all rivers of illegal fish pens.

Cabrera refused to detail the guidelines she will make but off hand she is expected to reiterate the policy that when a private property has become part of the water across the years through accretion and other natural factors, the same becomes part of the public domain which only the state can regulate.

It appears that City Agriculture Officer Molina was hesitant to touch the still remaining fish pens in Dagupan numbering 63 as their owners claimed that these were built on supposedly titled properties.

Cabrera told newsmen that in enforcing the law against all illegal obstructions in the rivers, they will leave private properties on dry lands adjacent to fish pens untouched.

Meanwhile, City Agriculture Officer Emma Molina said 28 land owners already submitted documents, including their proofs of payment of taxes, pertaining to their claims over part of the water where their fish pens are located.

All these documents will be submitted to the City Assessor’s Office for validation with the old 1928 Cadastral Map of Dagupan, she said.

Of the number, Molina said, 26 properties were covered by torrens titles and two by tax declarations.

Molina’s office said the 63 fish pens still standing were spared from demolition because their owners claimed that their structures were built on part of their titled properties that were eroded into the water while awaiting the opinion of the legal Office and Mayor Fernandez.

She said teams from Task Force Bantay Ilog headed by Maximo Solis are conducting inventories on the fish pens supposedly standing on titled lots by measuring their areas, to determine their location as well as their real owners.

The task force had so far completed inventories in Barangay Lucao, Tambac. Calmay and Carael.

She said in conducting validation to titles already submitted, her office will also determine whether the operators of the fish pens and the owners of the adjacent properties are one and the same and if not, whether they have any contract signed for this.

At the same time, Molina appealed to all the remaining fish pen owners in Dagupan to now tear down their fish pens as these will be surely destroyed when the city begins its all-out operations to deepen the rivers and reduce the risk of floodMolina noted that two backhoes, one long-armed and another short-armed purchased by the city government had arrived and it will just be a matter of time before the harnessed in the efforts to make the rivers deeper.

Meanwhile, Solis reported that only three to seven fish pens still remained along the navigational lanes in the city.

The owners of these have pleaded than they be given just a few days to harvest their milkfish, after which they will personally tear down their structures. PNA-northboundasia.com