Mt. Apo, the Philippines’ highest peak has gained a number of visitors, to have a breath of mountain air over the country’s long weekend.
Trekkers were not bothered by the rainfalls and strenuous trails as they seemed to enjoy its mysterious interiors and all the bounty of its natural wonders. And though it’s farther, harder, and taller than it looks, everyone aims to summit the famous mountain.
Despite the holiday, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-XI) monitoring and assessment team also navigated Mt. Apo. Led by a mountaineer himself, Regional Executive Director Bagani Fidel Evasco, along with some officials and protected area conservationists, the team went on to personally observe and assess the condition of the mountain.
The goal is to assess the trail conditions and campsite situation in order to determine and strengthen preservation and conservation mechanisms for Mt. Apo, which was hailed as an ASEAN Heritage Site in 2011.
In fact, for a more convenient trekking experience, putting up facilities has been considered. Observations during the activity also led to pushing for stricter trekking rules because trekkers seemed to ignore the existing policies.
Trails and campsites were not just left with traces of footprints- so were empty soda and water bottles, face masks, and all other kinds of trash. Disappointingly, liquors and traces of drug substances were also observed in the area.
Boulders were not just imprinted with footsteps and handgrips- it’s also engraved with vandalism.
Being an established protected area and by virtue of Republic Act 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992 and Republic Act 9237, Mt. Apo is under the management and regulation of the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB). The Board is composed of members and shall have the DENR’s Regional Executive Director as chairman and advisor particularly on technical aspects.
With that, DENR-XI is urging the trekkers to be responsible and follow the guidelines and policies set by the PAMB. Otherwise, repercussions will not only entail fines and punishments but also damage to nature. For sure that by now, we have realized that nature’s revenge can be “unforgiving.”
Again, we are strongly reminding the public to trek responsibly and to respect all the species inside Mt. Apo. It is all our duty to protect the “King of Philippine Mountains” from exploitation as it is also a royalty when it comes to mitigating the threats of climate change. (contributed)