Lapu to charge tourists environmental fee

Lapu Lapu City logo.
Lapu Lapu City logo.(Logo from: http://region7.dilg.gov.ph/lgus/lapu-lapu-city/)

THE Lapu-Lapu City Government will start collecting P100 as environmental fee from all local and foreign tourists wishing to do water sports and recreational activities such as scuba diving, free diving, banana boat riding, jet skiing, sea-walker, parasailing, kayaking, island hopping and other similar activities on Wednesday, May 1, 2024.

Lapu-Lapu City Councilor Annabeth Cuizon said this is in line with the city ordinance approved by the council and signed by Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan in December 2023.

Exempted from paying the fee are those who engage in swimming, snorkeling and similar activities that will only be conducted near the shorelines of public beaches and private resorts, Cuizon told SunStar Cebu on Tuesday, April 30.

Cuizon said the City Government conducted a series of dialogues and consultative meetings with the stakeholders, such as the operators of watersports and recreational facilities, in the last few weeks to inform them of the implementation of the city ordinance.

She said they were met with hesitation and opposition from the stakeholders who complained about the fee being “expensive”; however, she stressed to them that the fee would be used for the protection of the environment.

In the original draft of the ordinance, the hotels and resorts in the city were tasked to collect the P100 environmental fee for the City Government. But Cuizon said the owners and management of the hotels and resorts refused to collect the fee, so the measure was revised to the current signed ordinance.

“During the public hearing, we listened to them and niingon sila nga (they said) ‘It’s hard to collect (the environmental fee),’” Cuizon said.

The ordinance was authored by the City Council’s committee on environment, natural resources and climate change adaptation chairman Councilor Celestino Aying and co-authored by committee members Councilors Cuizon and Linda Susan Baring, as well as committee on tourism, cooperatives and livelihood chairman Joseph Pangatungan.

Cuizon said the collection of the environmental fee will fund the City’s programs and projects that will protect the environment. These include rehabilitation of the local beaches with fecal coliform presence, improvement of garbage collection along the tourist spots, enforcement of the installation of septic tanks on boat operators, and coral protection, among others.

Collection

Cuizon said the City Treasurer’s Office (CTO) will spearhead the collection of the P100 environmental fee at the identified collection sites, namely the local Port of Angasil, Maribago, Punta Engaño (Hilton) and Marigondon.

“We already put up tables or booths. Amo na nang gipahimutang ang personnel nga maoy mo-collect. Before ka maka-island hopping kay mohapit sa ka sa collection booth before you can hop on board sa boat,” Cuizon said. (We’ve already assigned personnel who will do the collecting. Before you can go island hopping, you have to go to the collection booth before you can hop on the boat.)

However, Lapu-Lapu City residents are exempted from paying the fee provided they present a valid ID with a residential address in the city.

Filipino children aged 12 and below are also exempted from paying the fee, while Filipino senior citizens and persons with disability (PWDs) can avail themselves of a 20 percent discount upon the presentation of valid identification cards.

Operators and/or owners of watersports and recreational facilities that allow individuals who haven’t paid the environmental fee to board their boats will face penalties and fines.

Cuizon said that a written warning will be issued for the first offense. For the second offense, a fine of P3,500 will be imposed and a written warning will be issued on the probable revocation of the business permit.

For the third offense, a fine of P5,000 and revocation of the business permit will be imposed on the operators.

Cuizon said 70 percent of the funds collected from the environmental fee and the penalties from violations will be deposited to an Environmental Trust Fund (ETF).

The trust fund will be used to fund the city’s programs and projects that will protect the environment such as the ecological restoration of marine sanctuaries, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and implementation of measures to address noise, air and other forms of pollution that are detrimental to the overall environmental health of Lapu-Lapu City residents.

The remaining 30 percent will be allocated for the administrative, miscellaneous and other operating expenses of the City Government through its general fund.

Some 52 dive sites in the city are covered by the collection of the environmental fee.

These are Marigondon Cave, Turtle Point, Ambucan Point, Plantation Bay, Coral Point, Blue Hole, Whale Shark Point in Barangay Marigondon, J-Park Resort, Kontiki House Reef, Marine Station, Sardines-Run, Dakit-Dakit, Costabella Beach, Cebu Beach Club, Tambuli Beach, Climaco Point in Maribago, Agus Point, Hadsan Beach, Ebrada Reef, Green House Point, Cabbage Point in Agus, and Soft Coral Point and Baring Sanctuary in Baring.

Also included are Crimson Point, Mar Y Cielo, Shangri-La Reef, Shangri-La Sanctuary, Hilton Point, Kawayan Point in Mactan, Bantay Dagat Point, Mangal Point, Punta Engaño Reef in Punta Engaño, Cavern Point, Caubian Wall, Double Reef in Caubian, Mamsa Point, Talima Sanctuary, Hole In the Wall, Grouper’s Nests in Talima, San Vicente Reef, San Vicente Sanctuary, Sulpa Island Reef in San Vicente.

Others are Pangan-an Reef, 3’S Marias in Pangan-an, Black Tip Point, Sabang Sanctuary in Sabang, Tingo Point, Thresher Shark in Tingo, Pacific Point, Suba-Basbas Reef in Suba-Basbas, Caohagan Sanctuary in Caohagan, and Caw-oy Reef in Caw-oy.

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