P25M eyed in watershed environment tax
By ROGER M. BALANZA
The Davao City government has found a goldmine in the Watershed Protection, Conservation and Management Ordinance which could raise annual revenue of P25 million under the Environment Tax provided by the landmark measure.
But the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry said it would ask City Hall to slash down the new tax of P.25 centavos per hectare of land devoted to agri-business ventures of 50 hectares and above.
With minimum estimate of 10,000 hectares devoted to largescale plantations, the Environment Tax could bring in additional annual revenue of P25 million. Banana plantations, the biggest agri-industry in Davao City, have about 5,000 hectares planted with export Cavendish bananas. Pineapple farms, orchards and flower farms also dominate the landscape of the city’s farflung districts and could contribute a large chunk to the new tax to be imposed starting next year.
The landmark measure also known as the Watershed Code was authored by Councilor Arnolfo Ricardo Cabling and aims to protect the city watershed areas.
In the meeting of the Watershed Management Council (WMC) last week, city administrator Wendel Avisado, vice chair of the WMC, urged business chamber president Simeon Marfori to make a formal appeal with WMC to cut down the Environmental Tax. Marfori, who sits in the council as member representing the business chamber, said agri-business corporations are alreary contributing to environmental protection their own corporate programs.
The WMC, chaired by Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, is the policy making and implementing arm of the Watershed Code that covers 31 barangays in the Third District.
The code has delineated the watershed areas into conservation areas, agro-forestry/non-tillage areas and prime land and has defined prohibited acts in critical areas to protect the watershed.
Antonio Boquiren, technical assistant of Avisado and at the center of preparations for the implementation of the code, said a Technical Working Group has been formed to craft a General Framework and Management Plan for the watershed areas.