June 3, 2023

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 would be the entrance fee for all tourists; P50 for Baguio residents who are adults; P30 for Baguio children aged 11 and below; and a 20 percent 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 adopted into a proposed ordinance by the city council.

In the newly revised proposed ordinance, the entrance fees would be as follows: 

P100 for all tourists aged 13 and above;  P25 for tourists who are 12 years old and below; and a 20 percent discount to senior citizens and persons with disability who are tourists.

P50 for Baguio residents who are adults; P25 for Baguio children and students aged 13 and older; free of charge for Baguio children and students who are 12 years old and below; and P25 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 other parks maintained by the city government. A trust fund would be set up for this purpose.

The changes in the proposal came about after the city council’s discussion last Dec. 5.

Currently, entrance fee for adults is P10 while the entrance fee for children is P5 as per Section 31-C of the Environment Code. The proposed ordinance, once enacted, would amend this provision of the Environment Code. 

During the discussion, council members stated that for tourists, P10 is too cheap, P150 is too much, and P100 is reasonable.

The city council, however, urged the City Environment and Parks Management Office to conduct a feasibility study to determine the equitable environment fee for each group.

Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda said the approved fees may be amended later based on the results of the study.

Cepmo chief Rhenan Diwas said there is a need to increase the fees to keep up with the ballooning operational cost of the park.  He said total expenses had already skyrocketed to P38 million as of October 2022 which the current entrance fees pegged at P10 and P5 could not sustain. Water and electric bills had also increased by more than 50 percent, 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. The third phase would be themed after the Saleng Festival.

He said these added attractions at the park would justify the increase in the fees. 

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 fees in order to make both ends meet with meager resources in terms of manpower and operating expenses.

Magalong said that 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 Dec. 12 for approval on third reading. – Jordan G. Habbiling