The Baguio City Council has amended the proposal for the increase of the entrance fees at the Baguio Botanical Garden.
It was earlier proposed that P150.00 would be the entrance fee for all tourists; P50.00 for Baguio residents who are adults; P30 for Baguio children aged 11 and below; and a 20% discount would be given to senior citizens and students with appropriate identification cards.
This proposal came from City Environment and Parks Management Officer Rhenan Diwas and was later adapted into a proposed ordinance by the city council.
Under the newly revised proposed ordinance, the entrance fees would be as follows:
P100.00 for all tourists aged 13 and above; P25.00 for tourists who are 12 years old and below; and a 20% discount would be given to senior citizens and PWDs who are tourists.
P50.00 for Baguio residents who are adults; P25.00 for Baguio children and students aged 13 and older; free of charge for Baguio children and students who are 12 years of age and below; and P25.00 for Baguio senior citizens and PWDs.
The term “entrance fee” would be changed to “environment fee” since a portion of the collection would be spent for the upkeep and improvement of all the other parks maintained by the city government. A trust fund would be set up for this purpose.
The changes in the proposal came about right after the city council’s discussion last December 5.
Currently, the entrance fee for adults is P10.00 while the entrance fee for children is P5.00 as per Section 31-C of the Environment Code of Baguio City (Ordinance 18-2016). The proposed ordinance, once enacted, would amend this provision of the Environment Code.
During the discussion, several council members stated that for tourists, P10.00 is “too cheap,” P150.00 is “too much,” and P100.00 is “reasonable.”
The city council, however, urged the City Environment and Parks Management Office (CEPMO) to conduct a feasibility study that includes a cost-benefit analysis to objectively determine the equitable environment fee for each group.
Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda said that the approved fees may be amended later based on the results of the study.
According to CEPMO Chief Rhenan Diwas, there is a need to increase the fees urgently in order to keep up with the ballooning operational cost of the park. He said the total expenses had already skyrocketed to P38 million as of October 2022 which the current entrance fees pegged at P10.00 and P5.00 could not sustain. Water and electric bills had also drastically increased by more than 50%, Diwas added.
He mentioned that the current Christmas-themed attraction at the Botanical Garden is the first phase of a year-round plan. The second phase would be in line with the celebration of Panagbenga or the Flower Festival. The third phase would be themed after the Saleng Festival.
He said these added attractions at the park would somehow justify the increase in the fees.
Meanwhile, Councilor Levy Lloyd Orcales urged Diwas to consider the concept of “willingness to pay” in the conduct of the feasibility study.
Willingness to pay is an economic concept where the maximum price that people are willing to pay for a product or service is determined.
The city council also took note of the letter of Mayor Benjamin Magalong reiterating the “urgency” to increase the said fees in order to “make both ends meet with meager resources in terms of manpower and operating expenses.”
Magalong stated, with the increase of the fees, the city would be able to augment its current manpower for the maintenance and improvement of the garden; procure more gardening tools, supplies, and equipment; and afford adequate janitorial and security services.
The revised proposal will be included in the city council’s agenda on December 12 for its approval on the third and final reading. -Jordan G. Habbiling