Dagupan mayor reconstitutes city’s Task Force Bantay Ilog

DAGUPAN CITY — Mayor Belen Fernandez has reconstituted the city’s Task Force Bantay Ilog in a bid to finally do away all the illegal fish pens in all the waters of Dagupan City pursuant to an approved ordinance banning all illegal fish pens here.

City Agriculture Officer Emma who was retained to head Task Force Bantay Ilog, said Executive Order No. 06, series of 2016 issued by Mayor Fernandez expanded the composition of Task Force Bantay Ilog to make it more effective.

Previously, membership of the task force used to be limited only to officials and personnel of the city government.

The expanded task force now include representatives of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DENR),the president of the Liga ng mga Barangay, chief of the Dagupan PNP, Maritime Police chief, City Engineer, chief of the Public Order and Safety Office, and the chairman of the Fishpond Owners an d Fisherfolk Alliance of Region 1(FOOFARMCO).

The reconstituted task force is tasked to demolish fish pens,fishing corals and other forms of illegal structures in rivers and tributaries; ensure the enjoyment of the rivers by all the sectors especially the economic vulnerable fisherfolk in consistent with the laws, balanced ecology and enhanced quality of the environment; and to undertake other functions related to the protection of rivers and their tributaries.

Fish pens were allowed during the past city administration but the owners were to follow certain rules and regulations and pay the corresponding aquatic lease agreement (ALA) to the city.

But when Mayor Fernandez began her reign in July 1, 2013, she ordered the demolition of all these contraptions to prevent continuous degradation of the city’s rivers that could spawn the emergence of fish kills.

A new city ordinance banning all fish pens was enacted by the city council in middle of November last year and became effective in mid December, 10 days after publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the city.

The City Legal Office rendered a legal opinion that the mayor can now order the demolition of all the remaining fish pens even if the Implementing Rules and Regulation (IRR) to the newly enacted ordinance is yet being finalized

Three of these fish pens were already demolished since Monday and one was voluntarily demolished by its owners. PNA / northboundasia.com