March 27, 2023

Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan has asked City Environment and Parks Management Office (Cepmo) Head Rhenan Diwas to re-submit the Baguio Botanical Garden Master Development Plan to the city council for its approval.

Diwas said the plan was presented to the council on December 2019 or before the Covid-19 struck, but was not yet approved because these were only schematic designs.

Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan also requested Diwas to submit within 10 days for approval of the city council an executive-sponsored ordinance on the proposed new environmental and entrance fees for the Baguio Botanical Garden including all that was tackled in a hearing conducted by Cepmo.  

The proposal pushes for P50 fee for guests and tourists, P30 for Baguio residents above 12 years old who shall present to the treasury collector his/her government-issued ID bearing the residence address, and P10 for Baguio residents below 12 years old as environmental fee.

A 20 percent discount shall be given senior citizens and students but they must present the appropriate identification card.

Entrance fees at the Baguio Botanical Garden are currently pegged at P10 for adults and P5 for children based on the Environment Code of 2016.

To encourage forest breathing, the area will be free for residents at 6 to 8 a.m., Mondays to Fridays, but they are required to secure a wellness pass at the Cepmo while group activities like zumba and taebo including playing loud music will not be allowed inside the park.

Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda is personally in favor of the increase in entrance fees because it is necessary but suggested these should be P20 for locals and P60 for visitors.

She also advised Cepmo to come up with ways in minimizing the costs of maintaining the popular tourist attraction.

Diwas also disclosed several of the positive and negative comments generated during the public hearing conducted by his office on May 25 at the Baguio Convention Center on the proposed increase of entrance fees at the tourist site.

He assured all the suggestions and comments during the executive-led public hearing will be considered for incorporation into the proposal before being presented to the city council for its action to ensure what is contained in the proposal is not only coming from the city government but from the public.       

Diwas said after the park’s reopening on March 7, this year, after its rehabilitation, the influx of visitors to the area has greatly increased thus bolstering the need of raising entrance fees for operational and maintenance costs and to hire more personnel and security staff to improve the park’s operation efficiency and safety.

More reasons are to fund future developments consistent with the Botanical Garden Master Development Plan and establishment of additional community parks in other areas of the city. – Gaby B. Keith