Restrictions in Mount Banahaw still enforced, may be extended indefinitely

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Restrictions in Mount Banahaw still enforced, may be extended indefinitely

 

Mount Banahaw aerial assessment--RED Reynulfo Juan 523

As Holy Week nears, Mount Banahaw is again hogging the headlines. Related to its being known as pilgrimage destination, but it should not be the reason to be in the news, it was on fire, literally.

“In the wake of the recent incidences of fire in Mount Banahaw, the areas declared as early as March 9, 2004 will remain ‘restricted areas’ and maybe extended further,” declared Department of Environment and Natural Resources Region 4A CALABARZON Regional Executive Director Reynulfo Juan after conducting an aerial assessment of the area damaged by the fire on Thursday, March 20.

Juan was with a team from the Bureau of Fire Protection, DENR Quezon, Quezon Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Southern Luzon Command on board Philippine Air Force helicopters.

Juan, who also heads the Mounts Banahaw-San Cristobal Protected Landscape-Protected Area Management Board (MBSCPL-PAMB), met with PAMB members at the Quezon Provincial Capitol after the aerial assessment and presented the findings. He said he was amazed with the beauty of the mountain with a close-up view and was glad with the remarkable recovery, except that fire has damaged a portion.

 

He affirmed the observation of the BFP that it could not be due ‘spontaneous combustion’ even with the dry grass but with cool breeze and a moist soil. He suspected it was done by humans who insisted on going to the restricted site, who were able to evade the outnumbered rangers.

Forester Salud Pangan, Protected Area Superintendent (PASu) of the MBSCPL and who also accompanied Juan in the aerial assessment, recommended the extension and possible expansion of the areas to be restricted. She, however, accepted that it was difficult to enforce the restriction considering the enormity of the area compared to the number of protected area rangers assigned to protect the area. Without the assistance of the Police and the local governments units and volunteers, the task was made easier.

Pangan, who had been informed of a group who were able to climb to the area and was angry at the result of the aerial assessment placing the damaged area to about 50 hectares near the crater and which is part of the restricted area referred to as “Durungawan,” said she had given instructions to the park rangers and the volunteers in the field to hold the individuals coming from the site to determine culpability.

“File charges as necessary,” said Juan in support of the PASu, “we should be firm in enforcing the law and protect Mount Banahaw and San Cristobal.”

Juan revealed that an en banc meeting of the MBSCPL-PAMB will be held during the first week of April to decide whether to close Mount Banahaw, or not, to visitors.

Some 90 hectares portion of Mount San Cristobal in Sitio Calo, Barangay San Cristobal, in San Pablo City was also destroyed by fire on Wednesday. Forester Emiliano Leviste, head of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Los Baños made an initial ground assessment of the area almost at the same time of the aerial assessment. He said the damaged area is part of the 200 hectares rehabilitated in 2012 under the National Greening Program. He suspected “pulot-pukyutan” or honey gatherers it could have caused the fire.

Meanwhile, five persons were ‘rescued’ as they were climbing down from the direction of the Durungawan by a team of Mountain Search and Rescue (MOSAR), a team of trained mountaineers and first responders from the PDRRMC. The rescued ‘pilgrims,’ members of Hiwaga ng Bundok Banahaw, Inc. were brought by the MOSAR team to the Dolores Municipal Hall for questioning and for more information on the other six members who they lost contact with. Another team proceeded to Durungawan to continue the SAR.


Off Limits. Restricted Areas.

DENR Ecosystem Research and Development Bureau, in 2009 conducted another “comprehensive and diagnostic assessment of the bio-physical and socio-cultural characteristics in Mt. Banahaw” and the “carrying capacity and biodiversity study” with special focus on the vicinity of Brgy. Kinabuhayan, in Dolores. The study revealed that Brgy.Kinabuhayan “is highly susceptible to landslide, erosion and flash flood, there is observable disturbance of the “samut-saring buhay” or biodiversity and that specific areas such as the worship area, parking area, bathing and camping area had been exceeded.”

The Protected Areas and Management Board (PAMB) of the Mounts Banahaw and San Cristobal Protected Landscape (MBSCPL) resolved to impose closure of several areas March 9, 2004 to 2009.

The PAMB resolved to extend closure up to January 9, 2012 or for another three years.

The PAMB, headed by Chairman Reynulfo Juan, on February 16, 2012, extended the closure further for another three years by Resolution No. 02-2012 after an en banc meeting.

Declared off limits starts in Kinabuhayan towards the approach to Kristalino Falls to Dungaw, to Tatlong Tangke and back to Kinabuhayan on the Dolores-side. Puesto Pagbuga in Brgy. Bugon and Bagong Ilaya in Brgy. Concepcion, Pinagbakuran and Concepcion Banahaw on the Sariaya-side.

 

DOs and DON’Ts in Mounts Banahaw and San Cristobal Protected Landscape

  1. Do your share to protect and conserve Mount Banahaw.
  2. Do segregate your wastes into biodegradable and non-biodegradable and bring your own bag and bring out your own garbage
  3. Do pocket plastic wrappers of candies and crackers
  4. Don’t litter, throw, dump waste matters in public places such as roads, sidewalks, canals, esteros or parks (Section 48 No.1, RA 9003/DENR Administrative Order No. 2001-34
  5. Don’t dump and bury biodegradable or non-biodegradable materials in flood-prone areas (Section 48 No. 6, RA 9003/DAO No. 2001-34)
  6. Don’t leave any non-biodegradable litter in the mountains, seas, lakes, ponds, and natural pools.
  7. Don’t smoke and throw cigarette butts in the forests, waters, lakes, ponds, streams, seas, pools, canals and esteros
  8. Don’t destroy or cause any damage or injure the trees, ornamental and flowering plants, orchids and other plants.

Also read: Mt Banahaw-San Cristobal Protected Landscape