The Lenten season which required the predominantly Catholic Boholanos to abstain from eating meat on Fridays for over a month brought to light once again the perennial problem of expensive fish in the province.
Provincial Board Member Vierna Maglasang, in a privilege speech during the PB’s regular session on Tuesday, called for the legislative body to take action against the “ridiculous” fish prices in the province which have already drawn flak from the public even before the pandemic.
“Our religious traditions and practices taught us to abstain from eating meat in observance of the Lord’s suffering. Having done so, what particularly caught my attention during this time were the ridiculous prices of fish and seafood products in the market beyond the reach of the average citizen,” Maglasang said.
“This was not only true during the Lenten season but has been a problem hounding us even way before the pandemic started,” she added.
The first-term lawmaker called for the PB to “put more teeth” to the Provincial Price Coordinating Council (PPCC) authorizing it to enforce measures to mitigate the increase in prices of seafood and basic commodities amid the pandemic.
She noted that that with technology, particularly through electronic messaging, it has been easier to compare prices in various provinces making it more apparent that fish costs in Bohol are significantly higher.
“Compared to other provinces only us in Bohol are suffering from the unreasonable prices of the sea’s bounty,” she added.
Maglasang said that Bohol’s once booming tourism industry may have driven up fish prices in the province but it appears that the problem persisted even with the pandemic which stopped tourists from visiting the island.
“Our tourism industry is down, few tourists are coming and many establishments have not been operating or if they are, they are not fully operational. Yet the prices of staple food in the market remain high with fish ridiculously higher,” she said.
There had been a series of inquiries by the PB on the reported expensive fish in the past few years but the issue has apparently persisted.
Previously, various officials including former PB member Tomas Abapo and former Department of Trade and Industry 7 director Aster Caberte asserted that the sale of Bohol fish products in Cebu City created a supply shortage, driving up prices in the province.
Last month, Cebu City Market Operations Division chief Irvin Icabales confirmed that around 200 fishing boats from Bohol took turns in delivering their products to the Pasil Fish Port in the neighboring city.
A single boat delivered around “20 to 30” foam boxes, each containing 30 kilos of fish, to Pasil before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in early 2020 and movement restrictions were imposed. (RT)