THE House of Representatives passed a resolution to renew a travel tax exemption for passengers departing from Mindanao and Palawan headed for any destination within the special economic group encompassing Brunei Darussalam and parts of Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

Lawmakers late Tuesday adopted House Resolution No. 454, which seeks to extend by five years the tax exemption that is set to expire in May.

The government collects travel tax, ranging from P400 to P2,700, from Filipinos and resident aliens for foreign travel, except overseas workers, Filipino permanent residents overseas, and children below two years old.

The travel tax exemption will promote tourism and trade activity in Mindanao and Palawan, the parts of the Philippines which lie within the BIMP-EAGA sub-region, according to the resolution.

The exemption has also “produced economic benefits in terms of increased business activities, remarkable growth in tourism development, additional and sea services in the transportation sector, and heightened sociocultural ties among people in the growth area,” Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Growth Area special committee and Sultan Kudarat Rep. Princess Rihan M. Sakularan said in the resolution.

In 2018, former President Rodrigo R. Duterte issued Memorandum Order No. 23 granting the tax exemption. 

BIMP-EAGA — or the Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area — includes Brunei; the provinces of Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku, and West Papua, Indonesia; the states of Sabah and Sarawak and the federal territory of Labuan, Malaysia; as well as Mindanao and Palawan. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz