BORACAY ISLAND, Aklan - While the island's tourism industry has yet to recover due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the business sector faces another hurdle on their path: a proposed ordinance hiking garbage collection fees for commercial establishments.
In a position letter issued on Saturday, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) Boracay strongly opposed the proposed garbage collection charge.
Elena Brugger, president of PCCI Boracay, questioned the local government of Malay over the additional fees when such is supposedly covered when firms process and pay for their business permit annually.
The fees they pay are based on the number of rooms in one establishment or number of tables in a restaurant, she said.
“They try to propose P10 per kilo which is, for us, it's repressive... in Sec. 17 of the local government code, basic services including solid waste should be the responsibility of the local government," she said in an interview with ABS-CBN News via Zoom.
Brugger added that there are no clear guidelines as to how this ordinance would be implemented once passed.
“How does it work? There is no guideline, there is no proper collection point where should the people go?" said Brugger.
A public hearing was held last week and the proposed P10 per kilo charge was reduced to P8 pesos per kilo of garbage.
Malay acting Mayor Frolibar Bautista explained the breakdown of the proposed garbage fee.
"In the proposed P8, P6.84 will go to the hauler. The P1.16 will go to the LGU which we will be spent on the cleanup of debris in the shoreline," said the mayor.
"Every Habagat season, a lot of debris can be found in the shoreline and nobody pays for the cleanup of the debris. We will use the P1.16 for that purpose."
Bautista told ABS-CBN News in a phone interview that the annual fees paid by the establishment owners are not enough to cover garbage fees they pay to the private contractor in charge of trash collection on the island.
The LGU has a contract with ECOS, which hauls garbage from the island to the sanitary landfill at the Malay mainland.
"The garbage fee we collect every year is only P30 million and it's not enough. We have a big requirement for the payment of garbage," said Bautista.
The acting mayor says in just one month, hauling fees reach as high as P12 million.
At the height of tourist activity on the island, trucks of garbage are collected every day from establishments.
For the PCCI, the LGU should instead focus on implementing measures that would revive the tourism industry on the island.
Boracay, a world-renowned beach destination, reopened on June 16 to tourists from within Western Visayas after over two months of closure because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The island was also closed for 6 months in 2018 for massive rehabilitation.