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Mount Banahaw still restricted, PAMB upped entrance fees

1 Mount Banahaw as seen from Lucban Quezon MOD

Mount Banahaw is still one of the known lenten destinations but the environment department expects fewer pilgrims during the Holy Week.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources Region 4A CALABARZON Regional Executive Director Reynulfo Juan reiterated to the public that Mount Banahaw is still closed to trekkers and pilgrims and that religious activities will be allowed only in designated portions of the Protected Area.

Juan, concurrent chairman of the Protected Area Management Board of the Mounts Banahaw-San Cristobal Protected Landscape (MBSCPL-PAMB), revealed that there were suggestions to totally close Mount Banahaw to any human activity for it to heal completely. The DENR Calabarzon chief said that human activity has caused the deterioration of the 'holy mountain' but closing it completely will be somewhat difficult since Mount Bnahaw traditionally hosted cultural and religious practices for ages.

"The PAMB," he explained, "recognized the religious character of the mount but passed a resolution to restrict human presence in most part and to allow access only in specifically designated areas."

He lamented the intrusion of a group of pilgrims into a restricted area and who triggered the burning of a sizeable portion on March 20, last year 2014. He said the group led by a sexagenarian were arrested, detained and charged in court.

While he warned that trekkers, visitors, including pilgrims, will face legal sanctions for acts in violation of environmental laws and the PAMB resolution, he said, "I pray that the pilgrims, everybody, do their share to help heal the holy mountain."

Juan has made several visits to the mountain to monitor protection efforts and supervise the rehabilitation and refurbishing of the Protected Area Superintendent headquarters in Barangay Kinabuhayan.

He had the chance to view the protected area up close from the air during the helicopter surveillance of the fire damaged-area last year and said that he was amazed with the beauty of the mountain and was glad with the remarkable recovery, except for that portion damaged by the pilgrim's fire. 

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