Senator Nancy Binay has called on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to ensure stricter implementation of environmental policies to avoid a repeat of the fire that struck Mount Pulag recently.
“Mas higpitan pa po sana ng DENR at ng lokal na pamahalaan ang pagpapatupad ng mga polisiya at pagbabantay upang maiwasan ang sunog at mga aksidente sa mga tourist sites, lalo na sa Mount Pulag,” Binay said.
The legislator, who also chairs the Senate Committee on Tourism, added that climbers also have a responsibility to safeguard and protect the mountain.
“Nakikinabang tayo sa natural na yaman at ganda ng Mount Pulag, pero responsibilidad din po natin ang pag-aalaga rito. Kasama na po rito ang pagsunod sa ating mga environmental laws and policies, na nariyan upang protektahan ang bundok at ang mga taong umaakyat upang makita ang ganda ng Mount Pulag,” the lawmaker said.
Mount Pulag is Luzon’s highest mountain, and it attracts many climbers hoping to catch a glimpse of its famed “sea of clouds.” It was proclaimed a National Park through Presidential Proclamation No. 75 in 1987.
Mount Pulag is Luzon’s highest mountain, and it attracts many climbers hoping to catch a glimpse of its famed sea of clouds.
The proclamation prohibited the “destruction of any vegetation or any act causing disturbances to the habitat of wildlife,” among others.
The 2,922-meter high mountain hosts a variety of flora and fauna, including endemic plants like the Dwarf Bamboo, Benguet Pine; and threatened mammals such as the Philippine Brown Deer, Northern Luzon Giant Cloud Rat and the Luzon Pygmy Fruit Bat.
The lady senator added that she supports the move of the Cordillera Office of Civil Defense to indefinitely suspend all hiking and trekking activities after the fire.
“Makakatulong po ang indefinite suspension ng hiking at trekking activities upang muling tumubo ang mga nasirang grassland sa Mount Pulag,” she said.
“Tourism will be definitely affected by the move, but it is better to allow the grass to regrow and return to its state before the fire,” Binay added.
Around three hectares of grassland was burned in the fire, according to reports.
The Mount Pulag National Park Protected Area Office has closed the mountain during Fridays to Sundays from January to May of this year, as trekkers and hikers have already filled up the slots for the weekends. The mountain can only accommodate around 300 to 400 climbers per day.
Binay said that Mount Pulag also needs the “space” to “move on and heal,” alluding to reasons some trekkers have in climbing the mountain range.
“Kung tayo po ay umaakyat para mag-move on, hayaan din po natin na mag-move on din ang Mount Pulag. Ibigay po natin ‘yung space na hinihingi ng bundok para makapag-move on at gumaling,” she said.