Russian couple apprehended, fined for trekking Mt. Apo sans permit

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 15 March)—A Russian couple summiting Mt. Apo, the country’s tallest peak, were apprehended for failure to obtain a trekking permit, officials confirmed Wednesday.

A DENR official gives a lecture to the Russian couple apprehended for trekking Mt. Apo without a permit. Photo courtesy of DENR-12

Felix Alicer, Department of Environment and Natural Resources–Region 12 (DENR–12) director, said the foreign tourists were intercepted last Saturday at the Mandangan Trail in Kidapawan City, North Cotabato province.

Alicer stressed that “ignorance of the law excuses no one,” after the unnamed violators asserted that they were not aware of the trekking regulation.

This was the first ever recorded of such offense by the Mt. Apo Natural Park–Protected Area Management Bureau (MANP–PAMB).

The two were penalized P2,000 each based on the Unified Trekking Policy of the Mount Apo Natural Park, Alicer said.

Shirley Uy, Mt. Apo Natural Park protected area superintendent (PASu), said that individuals trekking to summit Mt. Apo need to first secure a permit from concerned government agencies in the region.

“This incident should serve as a warning to everybody,” Uy said in a statement.

Towering at 2,954 meters above sea level (9,692 feet), Mt. Apo, locally known as Apo Sandawa, is a large solfataric, dormant stratovolcano straddling Soccsksargen (Region 12) and Davao region.

Uy said the Russian couple were able to reach the hiking area by hiring a habal-habal or passenger motorcycle.

They were summiting the peak of the mountain guided by a trekking application utilizing the GPS (global positioning system) feature on their phone, she added.

Mt. Apo, the country’s highest peak. MindaNews file photo by BOBBY TIMONERA

While trekking to the peak, the foreign tourists were apprehended by Lake Venado camp manager Renante Antac, of the Kidapawan City Tourism Office.

They were brought to the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office–North Cotabato after failing to present a climbing permit, Antac said.

PASu Uy said the Russian tourists were released after paying their fines, but are welcome to come back and trek Mt. Apo provided they would acquire a climbing permit.

“To all those who plan to go to the peak of Mt. Apo, we are asking you to secure the necessary permit from concerned offices first before climbing so this incident can be avoided,” she said. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)