ILOILO CITY – The mayor and a councilor of Malay, Aklan defended the increase in environmental fee collected from tourists visiting Boracay Island.
“Malay LGU needs to increase it to sustain the environmental operations,” Mayor Frolibar Bautista said.
The Aklan Provincial Board had reviewed Municipal Ordinance No. 431 of Malay LGU.
Authored by Malay Councilor Nenette Aguirre Graf, the ordinance will collect P300 environmental fee for foreign tourists and P150 for domestic tourists.
Graf pointed out it is long overdue as Malay has only been collecting P75 environmental fee since 2005.
Only residents of Aklan are exempted from paying the environmental fee.
“The LGU needs this. It is drowning in debt as it tries to comply with the zero-waste mandate of the national government,” Graf said.
Graf said that Secretary Roy Cimatu of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) had earlier mandated zero waste management in the country’s tourism crown jewel and most popular beach destination, which is undergoing massive rehabilitation since 2018.
“The island was closed to tourists for six months this year because of the pandemic. Where is the LGU going to get the money to shoulder the cost?” Graf said.
Malay LGU owes contractor around P150 million to haul off the trash generated by residents and tourists who started coming back last Oct. 1 when Boracay reopened after the pandemic’s travel restrictions have been eased.
Bautista and Graf noted that that the Aklan provincial government has a cut from the environmental fee collected from tourists.
The fee will only be collected once he ordinance is published in a newspaper or journal.