AKLAN, Philippines – The National Task Force Boracay ordered acting Malay town mayor Frolibar Bautista to stop collecting pontoon fees from passengers of island-hopping boats.
Rehabilitation group manager Natividad Bernandino said he told Bautista on Thursday, January 9, to put on hold the scheme after the task force received mounting complaints from tourists and residents over the past 3 weeks collection of fees were implemented.
The task force added that Bautista should wait for their final approval.
Last December 5, Bautista issued Executive Order No. 51 directing all sea sports operators, and water sports associations, and other related water and sea sports activities in Boracay Island to use the pontoon bridge.
EO 51 said passengers were to be charged P30 pontoon fee .
Of the amount, the municipal government of Malay, Aklan, earned P4.50 per issued ticket. The rest of the charges were shared by the barangays of Manocmanoc and Balabag, the private company which owns the pontoon, and the water sports associations.
“May pontoon para ma-regulate natin ang mga bangka at mga operators, lalong lalo na ang mga water sport activities sa beach front,” the acting mayor added.
(The use of the pontoon regulates the boats and operators, specially those with sport activities at the beach front.)
The blue pontoon extends 100 meters from the shoreline and was built near the boat stations in the White Beach.
The Boracay Task Force did not say it was illegal to collect pontoon fees. But, it reminded Bautista that the Malay LGU should first get the approval of the task force before collecting user fees for pontoon operations.
On January 9, the Sangguniang Bayan of Malay, Aklan, called for a review of EO 51, tackle the complaints, and to look into the controversy on the handling of pontoon fees.
“Marami tayong natatanggap na complaints araw araw sa pontoon fee, especially sa mga engaged sa water sports activities, tungkol sa legalidad ng operations ng pontoon,” town councilor Maylynn Aguirre-Graf said.
(We have received numerous complaints every day about the pontoon fee, especially from those doing water sports activities. They were questioning the legality of the pontoon operations.)
Graf added netizens were also asking Malay to clarify the pontoon fee collection which started on December 21, 2019.
Town councilor Nikkie Cahilig asked the complainants to attend the committee hearing. – Rappler.com