Contrary to INQUIRER article, Mt. Pulag remains open to trekkers / We say no to its proposed closure!

Contrary to an Inquirer report today headlined “Mt. Pulag off limits to trekkers to prevent forest fires“, Mt. Pulag remains open to hikers. This was relayed to me by Ma’am Mereng Aldas, Park Superintendent of the Mt. Pulag National Park (MPNP). The supposed resolution by the town council of Kabayan, and its town mayor, Faustino Aquisan, is non-binding because the municipality of Kabayan has no jurisdiction over Mt. Pulag; only parts of it fall within its boundaries. Moreover, it is still up to the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) to decide whether or not Mt. Pulag will be closed. Hence, we reject this resolution, and wonder why the Inquirer writer, Delmar Carino or his editors came up with such a misleading headline. Didn’t he consider the implications of such a news to ecotourism, and to locals in Mt. Pulag dependent on trekkers for their livelihood?

As a result of this news report, we have been flooded with inquires about Mt. Pulag’s status. Again, to everyone: Mt. Pulag is open to mountaineers at the moment according to park authorities. If this would change in the future, we’ll try to let you know but at the moment it is wide open.

It is true that fires have occurred throughout the Cordilleras – we have reported this several times. Yet the fires only touched on a very small part of Mt. Pulag National Park, particularly the Akiki trail. And even after the brush fire, the trail remained intact and passable. If there was a need to close a portion of the mountain, they could just have been selective about it (i.e temporary closure of the Akiki Trail). Besides, how can keeping mountaineers off limits to Mt. Pulag prevent forest fires?? We have our code of conduct summed up by three words: “Leave No Trace”. We’re not even  It is the local kaingineros, the illegal loggers, which they have to control and keep from going to the mountain because in most cases they are the culprits in these brush fires.

Mountaineers have served as the eyes of the nation in far-flung areas. With outsiders banned from Mt. Pulag, it will be more vulnerable, just like what Ma’am Mereng said in the INQUIRER article, to illegal logging and kaingin — which would spell more damage to the mountain.

We must be vigilant lest this issue be used as a pretext to close the mountain. There have been quarrels in the past between the Muncipality of Kabayan and the DENR over Mt. Pulag, because the annual treks organized by the Municipality are allegedly not being coordinated with the DENR-PASU. Hearing about the “secondary reasons” for the resolution to close Mt. Pulag, which include “issues involving transport groups plying the Mt. Pulag route and to retrain tourist guides” makes me raise eyebrows over the real motives behind this closure. Are certain elements wanting a greater share of Mt. Pulag? We must really watch this issue with grave concern lest Mt. Pulag become another Mt. Apo where each local government gets its pig’s share of the exhorbitant entrance fees.

Mt. Pulag is a national park of national importance. It spans three provinces (Benguet, Ifugao, and Nueva Vizcaya) and several towns. Its fate cannot be decided by a town council. Any decision to close it must involve all the national stakeholders in the park. Mountaineers must also be consulted since we are by far the largest group of people who visit Mt. Pulag.

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15 Comments on "Contrary to INQUIRER article, Mt. Pulag remains open to trekkers / We say no to its proposed closure!"


Guest
Anonymous
9 years 4 months ago

hope that what I'm seeing here from our place, a fiery red line (quite long)in a mountain, is not a brush fire.. Di ko masyado makita kung sunog o kung ano talga kc madilim ngayon dito sa amin sa Pangasinan. Sana hindi nga sunog yun sa bundok.

-Cory

Guest
9 years 5 months ago

yes, this is philippine politics. sad isn't it? even mountains may have to move some day to give way to politicians.

Guest
Anonymous
9 years 5 months ago

yehey! may akyat kami sa weekend! kainis, hindi lang inquirer and nagrelease pati rin sa manila buletin, asa yahoo news pa… harrrr

Guest
Anonymous
9 years 5 months ago

Yes, it's still open! Kakababa lang namin kahapon! =D

Guest
Anonymous
9 years 5 months ago

@cecil – you hit it right on target.

Misleading headline. Lack of research (does it only take 1 mayor and 1 town council resolution to enforce a ban on hiking in mt pulag?)

And even though the writer was apparently told that the enforcement of such a ban was up to the PAMB, he still failed to solicit that info from Mam Mereng–because this writer Delmar Carino still didnt understand that PAMB will be the one to decide if the park will be closed for hiking activities.

His/her editor probably knew even less about the entire situation and approved the article because it passed his/her spellcheck.

And isnt D2 the highest mountain in the PI?
-Yanma