Mt. Apo reopens to climbers with higher fees, strict policies

Claire Cornelio, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 25 2017 04:10 AM

DAVAO CITY- Mt. Apo reopened to trekkers on Thursday, around one year after fire broke near the peak of the country's tallest mountain.

More than 100 hectares of forest cover was affected by the fire, prompting the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) to close the ecological park to mountaineers.

As of Thursday, New Israel trail in Makilala, Mandarangan trail in Kidapawan City, Bongolanan trail in Magpet, Kapatagan trail in Digos City and Colan trail in Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur have opened.

Luningning Dalayon, deputy superintendent of Mt. Apo Natural Park, said local officials from three cities and four municipalities surrounding the park, including indigenous peoples, have agreed to lift the closure order of DENR Regional Office XI.

"Ang major reason diyan is eco-tourism and the economic reason kasi alam naman natin pag ang tao walang ibang pinagkukuhanan ng hanapbuhay, ang iba dyan ang atensyon nila nalalaan sa ibang bagay, ikinatatakutan natin na ma-focus sa illegal activities na mag-cause ng harm sa Mt. Apo," Dalayon said.

(The major reason is eco-tourism and economics. When people have no other sources of income, they might resort to illegal activities that would cause harm to Mt. Apo.)

Authorities are now charging a higher fee from mountaineers.

Climbers will have to pay a P1,500 trekking fee compared to P500 last year. Overnight stay in the peak is no longer allowed.

Each trail will only have a 50-trekker carrying capacity per day. The management will not entertain walk-in trekkers.

Mountaineers will also undergo a seminar before they will be allowed to climb the peak.