River Basin Coun­cil: Eco­log­i­cal tax not ex­pen­sive

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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.

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