AMCI mt. apo ban

Date: Friday, March 08, 2002 9:50 AM
Subject: mt. apo ban

Officials push for Mt. Apo closure until 2007
March 9, 2002

DAVAO CITY - Officials of local government units surrounding the country's highest peak is calling for the closure of Mt. Apo to mountain climbers for at least five more years.

The call came as the two-year closure of the Mt. Apo set by the Mt. Apo Natural Park Protected Area Management Board expires on July 2002.

"I will recommend to PAMB an extension of its closure," said Cotabato Governor Emmanuel Piqol.

Pinol said the country's highest peak hasn't recovered fully well yet from the devastation.

"The least the mountain needs now is exposure to abuse and destruction from irresponsible trekkers," Pinol said.

Digos City Mayor Arsenio Latasa also said another five-year closure of Mt. Apo to trekkers will be good for mountain resort.

"If we really want to save the mountain from devastation, we have to demand for an extension of the ban on mountain climbing," Latasa said.

Through the years, the number of climbers to the country's highest mountain peak has tremendously increased to a critical level.

At least 700 tents with four trekkers each are set up everyday during lenten season in the mountain, records of the Mt. Apo Foundation Incorporated showed.

MAFI chair Ermelo Libre admitted the need to extend the closure.

Lawyer Libre said there may be little improvement on Mt. Apo's physical appearance but there are still unresolved concerns that need to be ironed out to protect the mountain from further degradation.

"We still need a scientific study on its carrying capacity, set up uniform climbing policy, prescribe the do's and don'ts for climbers, as well as the ethics and the procedure or mechanism on garbage disposal. We are not yet ready for that," Libre stressed.

Libre said emergency communication facilities should also be set up. He said they will also request the surrounding LGUs to develop an alternative tourism site within their area not covered by the ban to lessen the pressure on Mt. Apo.

He said the same agenda will be discussed during the PAMB workshop this month together with their partner agencies.

"There are still a lot to strengthen... if the system is not yet ready and we open Mt. Apo to trekkers, all that we worked for will just go to waste," Libre said.

He said there is a need also to reroute the trails which they have started working on.

The closure of Mt. Apo to trekkers has helped in restoring the mountain's natural resources which have been destroyed by irresponsible climbers.

PAMB said closure has also helped in abating increasing destruction of trails, depletion of plants, animal life and the desecration of significant indigenous traditions and customs of the native tribes. (PNA)

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