NOTE: THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE BOHOL CHRONICLE’S SUNDAY PRINT EDITION.
Stopping vehicles along the highway to pay for government fees should not be the case, especially in a tourist destination town like Anda.
Gov. Aris Aumentado issued this categorical statement in reaction to the ongoing collection of P30 environmental fee once entering the town of Anda.
“You can collect the fees. But, not along the highway,” Gov. Aumentado told Anda Mayor Angelina Simacio in a phone call he made to the town executive.
The governor said he considers it an “eye sore” for a checkpoint upon entering Anda where each one is asked to pay P30.
Gov. Aumentado advised the mayor to collect the fees at the entrances of the various beach resorts where environmental fees are required, but never along the national highway which is a provincial road.
Despite the support of an ordinance as claimed by the mayor, Gov. Aumentado insisted that the collection be transferred to the right place, which is at the entrance of the beach resort.
“Collecting the fee right when you enter the town looks counterproductive in our efforts to welcome tourists and visitors,” the governor stressed.
Mayor Simacio assured the governor to first amend the ordinance so as to effect the transfer of the collection of the environmental fees.
RESORT OWNERS’ OBJECTION
Resort owners have opposed the LGU environmental fee to the tune of P30/person, including kids, saying that the new administration’s move (collection) is like a “highway robbery” and is killing the tourism industry.
In their letter signed by Anda de Boracay operator Anastacio “Jun” Daniel and Anda Global 1 & 2 owner Edil Tan, the resort owners requested Mayor Simacio to stop the collection.
The collection is done at the boundary of Anda and Guindulman along the provincial road, wherein every passenger or private vehicle is flagged down for said collection.
The resort owners alleged that the said fee collection contained in Municipal Ordinance No. 21-2020, (actually called “environmental fee) is deficient in proper public information/consultation and lack of timing.
In the said letter obtained by the Chronicle, the resort owners said the fee increase “will boomerang soon and affect the local economy of Anda.” This also discourages visits here by beachgoers, and instead, they may opt to go to other places, like Guindulman and Mabini towns.
“The increase happened and was pursued by the Sangguniang Bayan despite the current situation of high prices of commodities, high inflation rates, and the complaint of guests regarding the entrance fee.”
They cried foul saying the impact of the high fee imposed “will have an exponential effect soon on our local tourism.”
In her letter to the resort owners, Mayor Simacio said the said Ordinance was enacted during the previous administration. But according to Daniel, it was not implemented due to the stakeholders’ opposition.
She said that the said measure “could not be repealed, amended or changed since this is the first year of implementation. We still have one year to assess and evaluate if the increase in the environmental fee is beneficial to both the local government and the local tourism industry as a whole.”
After a year of implementation, if the said Ordinance has negative effects or ramifications that’s the time to ask the SB to review or amend it, she said.
Mayor Simacio said the environmental fee collected is primarily for the improvement and maintenance of tourism-related infrastructure, like the improvement of roads leading to resorts and solid waste management programs.
Ordinance No. 21-2020 is entitled, “amending article E. permit and regulatory fees, sub-paragraph 90 of paragraph E of Mun. Ordinance No. 04-06-15 imposes an environmental users’ fee of P10/person.
Aside from the environmental fee of P30 from P10/person being imposed under the said Ordinance 21-2020, it also imposes a user’s fee of P50/person that shall be collected by the designated and authorized collectors from all tourist travelers and guests entering the town.
Another fee imposed pursuant to the said Ordinance is the special environmental user’s fee in the amount of P300, which “shall be collected from participants of commercial sporting events and other huge entertainment gatherings, such as a musical program or similar events with more participants, including the organizers.