TERNATE, Cavite: Bicycle- and motorcycle-riders, as well as tourists have expressed shock over an “ecological fee” of P20 that was imposed on them and other sightseers wishing to ride up Mount Palay Palay on their way to the famous Kaybiang Tunnel.

story 1 800x582 - Tourists, riders flay P20 ecological fee
Even the pandemic could not stop motorcycle- and bicycle-riders from visiting Kaybiang Tunnel in Ternate, Cavite. This picture was taken on Oct. 8, 2020, when no fee was collected from those who wanted to visit the tunnel. PHOTO BY DENNIS ABRINA

The local government unit (LGU) started collecting the fee last weekend (February 6-7, 2021) .

The LGU, however, immediately clarified that the implementation of the ecological fee that also received criticisms from netizens was authorized by an ordinance.

Mayor Lambert Bambao explained through his staff Bryan Novejas that the fee is in accordance with Ordinance 5, Series of 2014, authored by then-Councilor Lorenz Khalil Soberano, chairman of the Trade, Tourism, Culture and the Arts during the term of mayor Herminio Lindo.

The Ternate Tourism Ecological Fee ordinance cited the enjoyment of the locals, as well as the wise utilization, protection, conservation and management of the locality’s natural resources with the necessity of maintaining sound ecological balance.

It also was meant to enhance and sustain tourism activities in the locality through the conservation and protection of various tourist destinations; implement sustainable tourism development plans and projects; and promote and nurture the cultural and ecological values of Ternate folk and the tourist destinations in the area.

Novejas said the ecological fee would help “generate” funds to finance the implementation of environmental and tourism plans and projects and to provide the necessary amenities and services related to peace and order, beautification, livelihood and health.

“This (imposition of the ecological fee) is the way we can meet the needs of the local government to provide for the cleaning up of [trash] left by the riders and tourists on the road or in Kaybiang Tunnel and [the collected fees are] to be used for the mobility of police for peace and order, rescue by the MDRRMO (municipal disaster risk reduction and management office) in time [s] of accident within the vicinity,” he added.

“And where would we get funding, we [Ternate town] are only a fourth-class
municipality?” Novejas said in Filipino and English.

Every weekend, thousands of motorcycle and bike riders and hundreds of tourists come to Kaybiang Tunnel and pose for pictures there.

Kaybiang Tunnel, which is 300 meters long and with vertical clearance of 4.85 meters, was completed on July 1, 2013.

It is considered as the longest tunnel in the country and an alternative route going to Nasugbu town in Batangas province coming from Manila.

“Kaya po sa mga darating na weekends po, umasa po kayo na ang pamahalaang lokal ng Ternate ay muling maglalagay ng booth para sa nasabing ecological fee, ang mga residente ho ng Nasugbu na may kaukulang dokumento na nagpapatunay na sila ay residente dito ay hindi kasali sa fee (In the coming weekends, the LGU will put up a booth for the collection of the ecological fee, those from Nasugbu who who can prove that they are also residents of Ternate are exempted from the fee),” municipal treasurer Brendalyn Olano said.

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