BY BOY RYAN B. ZABAL
KALIBO, Aklan – It may soon legal to collect environmental admission fees for tourists in the capital town of Kalibo.
The proposed ordinance known as “An Ordinance Fixing an Environmental Admission Fee to all Tourists that Sojourn in the Municipality of Kalibo” will be tackled in a committee hearing on Wednesday morning.
Sangguniang Bayan members Ariel Fernandez and George Quimpo, co-authors of the draft ordinance, are pushing for the approval that would allow the charging of environment fee of P30 for all travelers and tourists.
In a scheduled committee hearing on June 20, the Sangguniang Bayan has invited Engr. Percy Malonesio, Kalibo manager of Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to gather concerns on the proposed ordinance.
If passed, the deputized collecting agents of the Municipal Economic Enterprise Development Office (MEEDO) Cash Division will enforce the ordinance at identified collection sites set up at entry points.
All fees collected will be earmarked as revenues of MEEDO and that ten percent of funds raised through the environmental fee is allocated for Tourism and Cultural Affairs Division to support the rehabilitation and improvement of tourism facilities and projects.
The town of Malay is among the first municipalities since the mid-1990s to adopt the policy of collecting environmental fee for incoming tourists in Caticlan Jetty Port and Terminal, the main entry point to the famous Boracay Island.
“The growing number of tourists and other heightened economic activities in Kalibo, Aklan has intensified the risk of environmental degradation through waste disposal, high cost of maintenance of tourist attractions and facilities, high security and protection risk and deterioration of air and water quality,” the proposal reads.
According to the draft ordinance, "the protection and security of tourists and the sustainable tourism is a shared responsibility and priority of the municipal government of Kalibo and the provincial government of Aklan."
Who should pay?
Who should pay?
Tourists, travelers or guests, who are non-residents of Aklan and who enters the town of Kalibo through any landing sites or other points of entry going to any of the barangays of Kalibo for the purpose of visiting, enjoying or viewing its tourist and other eco-tourism spots will pay the environmental fee.
Those residents of Aklan, children aged 12 years and above or person with disabilities, government officials and dignitaries on official business are exempted from the payment of environmental fees.
The ordinance defines resident of Aklan as "residing permanently in Aklan, born in Aklan but established residence somewhere, exercises his right to vote in Aklan, those who owns real property in Aklan and their immediate family and those residing permanently in the province but stays outside of Aklan occasionally or most of the time."
Senior citizens also enjoy 20 percent discount on fees collected by accredited agents.
Non-payment of environmental fees and misrepresentations of identity and residency are punishable by paying double the amount of environmental fee.
Non-issuance of tickets by authorized collectors is meted a fine of P1,000 and the filing of administrative case while unauthorized collection and overcharging by the collectors is also punishable by a fine of P2,000 and the filing of administrative case to the Office of the Mayor.