KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/05 March) – People who wish to reach the summit of Mt. Apo the easy way may soon get their wish with the plan of the city government to build a 16,620-step to the country’s highest peak.
But even before the project could begin, an online petition posted on www.change.org has been launched opposing it.
The petition, addressed to Environment Secretary Ramon Paje and Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, noted, among others, that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in 2009 proposed the inclusion of Mt. Apo in the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Mt. Apo, which straddles Davao City, North Cotabato and Davao del Sur stands at 9,692 feet and overlooks Kidapawan at least 20 kilometers to the west.
Dubbed “Hagdan ni Apo,” the P2.5-million project was presented to the Kidapawan City Tourism Council and media last week by the city government’s Investment and Tourism Promotions Office.
Tourism officer Joey Recemilla said the stairway would cover at least seven kilometers if built starting from Barangay Ilomavis in Kidapawan City.
To ensure safety, the stairway will have protective ropes, said Recemilla.
The city government is also set to build a hanging bridge across the Marble River, one of the longest rivers in North Cotabato.
The project includes the construction of state-of-the-art public rest rooms at the Marble River and Lake Venado and a research and conservation center, the plan showed.
In North Cotabato, the Mt. Apo summit can be reached using trails from Kidapawan City and from Makilala and Magpet towns.
The mountain is one of the most popular climbing destinations in the country.
“This time, we will make the tour to the peak a lot easier to tourists by constructing a permanent stairway,” Recemilla said.
“Also, by building structures along the pathway leading to the peak, it would discourage tourists and locals from creating a new trail and other activities that will destroy the natural park,” he explained.
At least 64,053 hectares of the mountain falls within the Mount Apo Natural Park, he said.
He said the project will strengthen the conservation of the mountain as well as boost local tourism through jobs creation, livelihood projects, and increase in local taxes.
With an initial funding of P1 million from the city government, he said the construction would begin soon. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)