Gatchalian urges Senate to look into environment fees collected by Malay

By Charissa Luci-Atienza

Even as President Durterte ordered the closure of Boracay Island this month, Valenzuela Rep. Wes Gatchalian is calling on his colleagues to look into whether or not the environmental and admission fees collected from the tourists are properly used for environmental protection of the country’s famous destination.

04142018_BORACAY_STILL-NORMAL_YAP Foreign tourists still visit popular beach destination Boracay Island in this April 14, 2018 photo. But locals are alarmed with the deployment of anti-riot police ahead of the schedule April 26 closure. (Tara Yap) (Tara Yap/Manila Bulletin file phot)

He noted that on October 12, 2005, the municipality of Malay enacted Ordinance No. 230, charging environmental and admission fee on all Boracay-bound guess, purportedly aimed at protecting the environmental sustainability of the island.

Gatchalian said while Section 5 Article X of the 1987 Constitution provides that each local government unit has the power to create its own sources of revenues and to levy taxes, fees and charges, the disbursement of fees and charges collected from tourists by the Municipality of Malay for the purpose of environmental protection of the Boracay Island should be looked into.

“In light of the hearings conducted by the Committee on Tourism of the House of Representatives pursuant to House Resolution 1087, the deteriorating situation of the island’s marine and ecological health has been highlighted,” he said in filing House Resolution 1791. In 2009, the province of Aklan enacted Ordinance 2009-003, enacting the Tourism Code.

Under HR 1791, Gatchalian calls on "the relevant House panel to conduct an investigation to determine whether or not the funds collected by the municipality of Malay for environmental protection and preservation of the Boracay Island has been appropriately utilized.”

Section 129 of RA 7160 provides that each local government unit shall exercise its power to create its own sources of revenue and to levy taxes, fees, and charges subject to the provisions, consistent with the basic policy of local autonomy. Such taxes, fees, and charges shall accrue exclusively to the local government units.