DENR imposes stricter rules for Mt Pulag trekkers
BENGUET, Philippines – Tourism has caused an unabated influx of trekkers at the Mt Pulag National Park and this has gone out of control.
The park is being managed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which has been implementing a 500 trekkers daily as the allowable cap. This is to protect the forest while promoting sustainable tourism in outlying communities. Locals are also being designated as porters.
However, the park management recently observed that a growing number of hike organizers have been insisting on going to the Babadak Ranger Station despite the advice and refusal of the DENR.
Emerita Albas, the park superintendent, issued a statement on social media, saying that some groups – without the proper reservations made and without coordination with management – insist on making the trips, even going to the extent of intimidating park rangers and guides.
As a result, the DENR issued stricter guidelines for hike organizers and individual trekkers.
The park management now imposes a maximum 20-member-per team rule. “In line with this, all organizers with more than 20 participants per team are advised to reduce their team,” the notice reads.
Groups with less than 10 members could be accommodated to provide social assistance to community guides and porters, the park management said.
The park management has started marking the hands of all trekkers at the Visitors' Center. They are the ones who have made reservations and have undergone the orientation before entry to the park.
“All trekkers with no seal from the Visitors' Center or the Protected Area Office will be sent back and will not be allowed entry. Organizers and trekkers with no reservations are hereby advised not to proceed to the Babadak Ranger Station,” the DENR notice said.
The Visitor’s Office is located in Ambangeg, Bokod.
Those who made previous reservations are given the chance to enter the park following the maximum 20-member rule “to give chances to other climbers to trek the park.”
Albas said that to date, all Saturdays and Sundays up to December 2016 are fully booked. The park management suspended reservations for 2017 at the Babadak Trail on Saturdays to allow the trails to rest and recover.
“Camping is not allowed at the park on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays,” the notice said.
Organizers who exceed the number of reservations allowed are advised to usher their guests to the northern side of the park, the Mt Pulag mountain lakes in Kabayan, as alternative site.
An entrance fee of P100 per individual has been collected by the park management since 2000, in addition to P50 as camping fee per person.
Recently, the park management announced that the entrance fee was increased to P175 per person, in compliance with a resolution of the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) in 2015.
All trekkers are advised to check reservations at Mt Pulag National Park Office via 09291668864. – Rappler.com