DAVAO CITY, Philippines – An environmental group here urged the government not to resume in allowing the mountaineering activities in Mt. Apo.
Chinkie Peliño-Golle, acting executive director of Interface Development Interventions, said that Mt. Apo needs more years to complete its rehabilitation.
“They said before that there’s a minimum of five years closure. But it is still only one year now,” Peliño-Golle said in reaction to the March 23 resolution issued by the Protected Area Management Board.
PAMB’s recent resolution officially ended the Mt. Apo’s supposed “indefinite” closure after a grass fire razed the mountain’s peak last year.
But Peliño-Golle and mountaineering groups opposed PAMB’s decision to reopen the country’s highest peak to the public as they maintained that one year is not enough to complete its rehabilitation.
“They said the purpose to reopen is for tourism, livelihood,” she said. Peliño-Golle, however, said that the local government units should instead provide alternative livelihood for them.
“We challenge the LGUs to provide alternative livelihood,” she said.
The reopening of Mt Apo, as stated on PAMB’s resolution, would be on April 12 but it could only accommodate 50 hikers a day.
PAMB has also set three entry points for hikers, namely: Kidapawan, Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur, and Tamayong, Davao City. Hikers are required to pay a permit fee of P2,000 for standard and P2,500 for peak season, P1,000 to P1,500 entry and exit fees.
Mylai Santos, Ecoteneo director of Ateneo de Davao, said Mt Apo’s rehabilitation would be a long process because all the trees planted during the rehabilitation last October 2016 have low probability to survive.
“We started planting last October. We visited last February [and] it has not grown yet,” Santos said.
Another recommendation for the community members’ livelihood is to take part in the monitoring of the rehabilitation process of the mountain.
“Communities [can] help ensure that trees would grow, we could have it as their livelihood,” Santos said.
On April 5, a stakeholders’ meeting is set to be attended by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the different groups to discuss the reopening of Mt.apo. (davaotoday.com)