Lapu-Lapu City collects over P80K in green fees

Lapu-Lapu City Councilor Annabeth Cuizon
Lapu-Lapu City Councilor Annabeth Cuizon Photo from Annabeth Cuizon's Facebook page

DESPITE initial challenges, the Lapu-Lapu City government collected a total of P80,520 on Wednesday, May 1, 2024, its first day of charging tourists a P100 environmental fee.

City Councilor Annabeth Cuizon, in a text message to SunStar Cebu on Thursday, May 2, said the amount translated to more than 800 guests and tourists who engaged in island hopping and other water sports and recreational activities, such as scuba diving, free diving, banana boat riding, jet skiing, sea-walking, parasailing, kayaking, and other similar activities during the Labor Day celebration, a regular holiday in the country.

Based on the data provided by Cuizon for each of the four collection sites, Hilton Port collected P34,700, followed by Maribago Coastway with P30,800, Marigondon Coastway with P10,780, and Angasil Port with P4,160.

Cuizon is one of the co-authors of City Ordinance 16-132-2023, approved in December 2023, which mandated the collection of an environmental fee of P100 from local and international tourists who engage in island-hopping and water sports and recreational activities within the city’s jurisdiction.

On the first day of implementation, Cuizon admitted that the city government faced challenges, including several island-hopping boat operators and guests choosing to dock and depart from the port in the neighboring town of Cordova to avoid paying the environmental fee.

Cuizon said guests and tourists are not prohibited from docking and departing via the Cordova port; however, they will be charged the environmental fee if they visit sites, islets and islands within Lapu-Lapu City’s jurisdiction.

She said they also scheduled a meeting with stakeholders on Thursday to discuss how to improve the implementation of the ordinance by improving payment methods and enforcement.

“From what we experienced yesterday, we have more than a thousand (guests) on peak seasons, which are during holidays and summer breaks,” Cuizon said.

She clarified on Tuesday that Lapu-Lapu residents and children 12 years old and below are exempted from paying the fee, while senior citizens and persons with disabilities can avail of the 20 percent discount.

She also stressed that all funds collected from the environmental fee and penalties will be deposited to a trust fund, which will be used to finance various programs and projects of the city government with environmental impacts, such as the installation of rest stops for tourists in the different ports in the city including comfort rooms and commissioning of designated garbage trucks for these activities.

Among the initial projects that will be funded by the measure are improving waste management and disposal from island-hopping boats, as well as the rehabilitation of seawaters and corals. / EHP

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