The municipal government of Anda takes risk in collecting environmental fee from visitors upon entering the town’s boundary.
Three municipal ordinances have been cited as bases for its implementation throughout 2012 to present.
However, all the three ordinances still have to get the approval of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP).
SP Secretary Boni Quirog said the Sangguniang Bayan of Anda passed the first ordinance regarding the matter in 2011 and amended it through another ordinance in 2012.
The 2012 ordinance changed the collection point to the entrance of resorts or at the boundary of the barangays where they are located from what is designated in the 2011 ordinance which is sitio Ipo in barangay Candabong- -the entrance point to the town.
The Sangguniang Bayan of Anda passed another ordinance in 2016 reverting the site of collection point to sitio Ipo in barangay Candabong.
Quirog explained that the SP forwarded the 2011 and 2012 ordinances to the Provincial Legal Office before the body makes recommendations.
The 2016 ordinance has not yet been transmitted by the SB of Anda to the SP for review.
On this, Quirog said the municipality of Anda could be vulnerable to repercussions in case the 2016 ordinance would be reviewed by the SP and gets disapproved.
The municipality of Anda may have implemented the ordinance without any intervention, but it is bound to return what it had collected in line with the ordinance if the SP finds it invalid after review.
SP Member Alexie Tutor earlier earned criticisms for her “shallow analysis” on the issue wherein she merely cited the existence of municipal ordinances as the bases for the collection of environmental fee from visitors of the town.
“The LGU has the power to find ways to increase its revenue. The collection of environmental fee is not prohibited by law,” according to Tutor.
She further elaborated in her privilege speech delivered during the regular session of SP on June 2 that the 2011 ordinance was implemented starting 2012 “whereby the collection was done at the entrance of Anda which is barangay Ipo” and that from 2013 to June last year, key persons had been appointed by the LGU to collect the environmental fee at the “entrance of resorts or at the entrance of barangays”.
Tutor also further narrated that in addition to public clamor against the collection of the fee, “revenue collection plummeted down due to the inefficiency of collection, that there was no regulation”.
She cited that on July 18 last year, the new municipal administration reverted back to what is provided in the 2011 ordinance which is to do the collection at sitio Ipo in barangay Candabong for regulation of the collection of the environmental fee, considering that the collectors are “DOT-trained”.
Section 468, under Article III of the Local Government Code of 1991, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan is tasked to “review all ordinances approved by the sanggunians of component cities and municipalities and executive orders issued by the mayors of said component units to determine whether these are within the scope of the prescribed powers of the sanggunian and of the mayor”.
On the other hand, under Article III of the 1987 Constitution, Section 6 provides that “neither shall the right to travel be impaired except in the interest of national security, public safety, or public health, as may be provided by law”.
It is on this point that the collection of environmental fee at a designated point along the highway upon entering Anda that visitors complained and aired their sentiments through social media.
Their common reactions expressed disappointments that while they have the right to travel, such right is already subjected to a limiting factor which is the collection of the fee.
While LGUs are allowed in the Local Government Code of 1991 to generate revenues, the DENR-Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) in other tourist destinations around the country focus the collection of environmental fee “on hotels, resorts, inns and other tourism business establishments”.(with reports from Chaitanya Jaya Dy)