Hkers belonging to two groups were allegedly arrested yesterday, September 18, 2011, for climbing parts of Mt. Banahaw which have been declared off-limits since 2004. The arrest was reported in INQUIRER and was confirmed to us by Ms. Sally Pangan, the Park Superintendent of DENR in Mt. Banahaw. She also identified Tatlong Tangke as the trail that the said mountaineers took.
The hikers were released yesterday, September 19 but Ms. Pangan told PinoyMountaineer that "charges will still be pursued against the [mountaineers]." According to the INQUIRER report, "they will be charged with violating Republic Act No. 9847 or the Mounts Banahaw-San Cristobal Protected Landscape (MBSCPL) Act of 2009. The offense is punishable by a fine of P5,000 to P500,000 or imprisonment of one to six years or both." .
This incident is not the first time that climbers were apprehended for making an illegal entry in Mt. Banahaw, and what might have encouraged the climbers is the fact that "backdoor entries" have been done with impunity in the past by other climbers.
In response to claims that some of the climbers have permits, Ms. Pangan told PinoyMountaineer: "The Office of the PASU in Pagbilao, Quezon is only one authorized to issue permits in Mt. Banahaw. Permits from other authorities are not officially recognized." She reminded everyone to be wary of seeking/getting "permits" from other bodies.
Mt. Banahaw is scheduled to reopen on March 2012, according to our previous update about Mt. Banahaw. Meanwhile, Ms. Pangan reiterates that Mt. Cristobal and Mt. Banahaw de Lucban remain open and are not subject to any restrictions.