DAVAO CITY, Philippines – After over a year, Mount Apo is set to be reopened to the public on April 12.
The mountain was closed to the public in March 2016, following a fire that destroyed over 100 hectares of forest cover. Though the cause of the fire remains unknown, it is believed to have been started by irresponsible trekkers who left a fire unattended.
The Protected Area Management Board (PAMB), the highest policy-making body in Mount Apo, approved the request of various concerned local government units to reopen the country's highest mountain. (READ: A visit to Mt Apo: Experiencing a world within a world)
Joey Recimilla, Kidapawan City Tourism Officer and PAMB chair, said that the decision was made during an en banc meeting on Thursday, March 23.
The body passed Resolution 01, series of 2017, which lifts the prohibition to climb the mountain. Recimilla said that the Camping Management Rules will be strictly implemented.
In a presentation, the PAMB cited several reasons for supporting the reopening of the mountain:
"All trails are open [and are] subject to compliance to LGUs' management and emergency plan, as we agreed on details about ground preparation before allowing the climb," Recimilla stressed.
The conditions for climbing are:
"If you did not comply, you cannot open your trail," Recimilla said.
Meanwhile, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-PAMB decided to open the terrain to give way to more economic opportunities for the residents in the area and to promote ecotourism.
Reopening Mount Apo to tourists also provides economic opportunities to residents who are porters. "It is better to open it because trekking activities are not destructive. In fact, it is ecotourism," Recimilla added.
The DENR will have a permanent monitoring team in Mount Apo to ensure that rules are followed. Among the new policies is the restriction on liquor, smoking, and sleeping at the peak at night.
Here are the fees to climb Mount Apo: