River Basin Council: Ecological tax not expensive
The Cagayan de Oro River Basin Management Council (CDORBMC) said Tuesday that the 50 centavo per cubic meter additional water charge they are asking for to protect the environment is the same amount the public spend for 12 sticks of cigarettes or a bottle of beer for a year.
During its forum with the press yesterday, the CDORBMC clarified that the additional charge for the Payment for Ecological Services (PES) is not expensive, and is only a top-up of a household’s monthly bill.
“Dili sya per cubic meter, mo add lang sya ug P5 sa total bill, for instance kung ang house bill is P800, your bill will now be P805, top-up lang sya sa total bill,” Hilly Ann Roa-Quiaoit of the CDORBMC said.
Quiaoit said she understands the public clamor but pointed out that there is an urgent and critical need for
environmental stewardship. She said the city’s surrounding highlands or watersheds, have been degraded that their ability to absorb water has lessened, causing flood to lowland communities like Cagayan de Oro.
Further deterioration of the river basin and watersheds can greatly affect the supply and quality of the water, she added.
In a month, Quiaoit said the PES will only cost each household P5, and P60 in a year.
In its 10-year projection, the city will generate a total of P679,800,000. About P441,200,000 of the total amount will be allocated for the restoration of high-risk areas, another P80 million for the livelihood programs in each barangays, while P113,600,000 will be allocated to create parks and open spaces in these areas.
Also, a total of P35 million will go to the communication and education campaign for environmental protection, while the remaining P10 million will be given to the administrative work or the supervising body of the project.
“[In] your water bill, you are paying for the pipes for the service of getting the water from the ground to your houses, that’s the water bill. Pero gibayaran ba nato ang kinaiyahan kung asa gikan ang tubig? Mao na sya ang prinsipyo sa payment for ecological services, did we ever make an effort to ensure that the source of the water has been secured?” Quiaoit said.
“Ang uban nga against ani, muingon nga nagbayad na daw sila ug tubig but really what we are doing here is giving back to the environment,” she added.
The proposed ordinance is still pending in Councilor Ian Mark Nacaya’s committee, who is sponsoring the proposal.
The move has gained the support of Mayor Oscar Moreno who said the program is an important reminder of the value of water.
But some City Councilors, such as Councilor Edna Dahino has raised her brow over this proposal, saying that it is an additional burden to the consumers.
The CDORBMC was created in November 16, 2010 to oversee and catalyze multi-stakeholders for the protection, preservation, rehabilitation and management of the CDO river basin.