Investigators of the alleged overpricing of seafood sold by vendors to tourists in Virgin Island in Panglao discovered that no vendors in the island have the necessary business permits from the local government unit.
Bohol Board Member Tita Baja shared on her Facebook page that Panglao Mayor Edgardo Arcay told her that vendors in Virgin Island do not have the required business permits.
“Allegedly, the vendors pay a fee per stall per day to DENR so that they can sell on the said tourist site,” Baja said in Bisaya
Before the alleged overpriced seafood went viral, Baja claimed that Arcay and the municipal council had scheduled a meeting with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to inquire on the legal basis of their fee collection.
The Panglao LGU has also reportedly planned to relocate the vendors to the mainland.
Bohol Governor Aries Aumentado also ordered the provincial board to investigate the alleged overpriced seafood sold by vendors to tourists in Panglao.
Aumentado’s order came after photos posted by social media user Vilma Uy alleging that a friend who recently took a vacation to the famous Bohol spot paid for an expensive meal for 13 people.
Included in the post, which has gone viral, is a list of 13 food items including various seafood and drinks amounting to P26,100.
“They were shocked with the bill,” the post reads in Bisaya. “It’s more expensive than a buffet from HENANN resort.” The said resort is a 5-star beachfront hotel located in Panglao.
In another Facebook post, a certain “Ayaw Pataka (don’t fool),” who claimed to be the one who issued the price list to the disgruntled tourist, itemized the tourist’s orders seemingly insisting on the pricing.
“I hope that you are happy with your post,” the user said. “Those shown in the pictures are those that remain (after eating).”
Aumentado said he was deeply “dismayed” by the incident.
“We will fix this,” he assured.
The governor said the incident is an opportunity for the provincial board to craft a resolution or an ordinance protecting tourists, which he claimed, “have been taken advantage” by some business owners in Panglao.
“We should give the right service to tourists as our guests because they are the ones who give livelihood to you,” he said in Bisaya.
The governor also called for an emergency meeting together with the DENR, the LGU-Panglao, and the tourism sector.
He has also suspended motor banca trips to and from Virgin Island from mainland Panglao pending the ongoing investigation.
Paquito Melchor Jr., regional director of DENR in Central Visayas, also issued a memorandum Tuesday, Aug. 2, instructing their provincial office to conduct an “immediate and thorough investigation” on the alleged “excessive charging of food meals by vendors in Virgin Island Bohol.”
Melchor asked the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) to submit their recommendations on or before Aug. 3 or a day after the release of the memorandum.
As of writing, Bohol PENRO officer Ariel Rica has coordinated with LGU Panglao and the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) of Panglao Island Protected Seascape (Pips).
Panglao’s Virgin Island is within the Pips. – Ryan Christopher J. Sorote