DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/28 March) – Only 50 trekkers for each trail a day will be allowed to climb Mt. Apo Natural Park starting April 12, 2017, the date the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) resolution ending the “indefinite closure” of the country’s highest peak takes effect.
The PAMB has imposed higher fees and limited the number of climbers to ensure Mt. Apo would be protected after last year’s forest fire that engulfed its peak and lasted for over two weeks.
Climbers may climb Mt. Apo via its six trails in Kidapawan, Makilala, and Magpet in North Cotabato, and Digos, Sta. Cruz, and Bansalan in Davao del Sur.
The board came out with camping management rules for the trekkers but some environmentalists are wary that these rules might not be enforced strictly.
Aside from limiting the number of trekkers, the PAMB Ecotourism Management Committee “unanimously agreed and approved” that a “no camping policy” at the peak area will be included in the Unified Trekking Policy of 2015 and the LGU’s Camp Management Plan.
The new rates for climbing Mt. Apo have been raised to P2,000 standard fee for all entry points and P2,500 during peak season; exit fee of P1,000 during regular season and P1,500 during peak season; and additional guide fee of P1,000 a day for a group of five climbers.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources 11 Regional Director Ruth Tawantawan said it was the decision of the Lumads who want the mountain to be reopened.
“Honestly, kung ako lang, pareho tayo ng position (If I were to decide, we are on the same position) but it was no less than the CADT (Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title) holder who wants it open,” she told Interface Development Interventions acting executive director Chinkie Pelino-Golle in a text message on Saturday.
“Mt. Apo is a favorite destination for both local and foreign tourists because of its unique features, aesthetic value, apart from being the highest peak in the Philippines,” the resolution said.
But Golle countered that the income “is big but we have to ensure the rehabilitation and protection of Mt. Apo.” (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)