After fifteen (15) years of restricted access to the public, Mts. Banahaw – San Cristobal Protected Landscape (MBSCPL) has already shown signs of improvement, but has not yet fully recovered. Thus, the continued closure on certain areas of the park has been set by the park’s management board as it falls within the Strict Protection Zone (SPZ).
This was announced today by DENR Regional Executive Director Atty. Maria Paz G. Luna, of CALABARZON Region saying that the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) for Mts. Banahaw and San Cristobal Protected Landscape (MBSCPL) has decided to impose the closure order until such time that the Local Government Unit (LGU) particularly the barangay/s concerned are fully prepared, trained and ready to handle visitors, able to implement the carrying capacity of the areas frequently visited, capability to handle disaster risk reduction management and trail hazard assessment.
It was in 2004 when the board issued a resolution declaring specific areas in the protected area as closed to the public, starting from the different puestos (sacred places) of Barangay Kinabuhayan, Kristalino Falls, Dungaw, Tatlong Tangke then back to Kinabuhayan on the side of Dolores, and from Barangay Bugon, puesto of Pagbuga up to Dulong Ilaya in Barangay Concepcion-Pinagbakuran and Concepcion-Banahaw on the Sariaya side, both in Quezon province.
In March 2006, public entry was restricted in five more areas in Laguna. These are Barangay Bukal in Nagcarlan; Barangays Ilaya Sungi and Novaliches in Liliw; and Bukal and Taytay in Majayjay. In 2013, Mt. Cristobal was completely closed due to a fire incident.
For this Holy Week, MBSCPL Park Superintendent Sally Pangan said that more than 200 mountaineers from various local groups such as the Ugnayan ng Mamumundok ng Banahaw, San Pablo Mountaineers, Tanaka-Laguna, Buhawi, Tayabas Montaineers, and the Banahaw Dolores Outdoor Club, volunteered to provide extra manpower in regulating the movements of pilgrims and visitors, and to prevent anyone from “slipping” into restricted areas.
“We will be patrolling the whole protected area throughout the Holy Week, in cooperation with the local government units, the police force, volunteer groups, radio groups and many more,” Pangan said.
Also according to Pangan, a command post has already been set up at the Protected Area Management Office (PAMO) in Barangay Kinabuhayan, where people visiting other parts of the protected area are required to individually register and listen to a brief orientation on the proper conduct inside the park.
Pangan also said that the PNP has already imposed a curfew in the park from 10 pm untill 4 am and that strategic check points have also been set up and will be manned 24 hours to prevent crime and other untoward incident.
“No roaming will be allowed after 10 p. m., and that vandals will be dealt with accordingly,” she stressed.
Acts that constitute vandalism, according to her, include picking or mutilating of plants, fruits and flowers, writing and engraving on trees and walls, altering or defacing facilities, boundary markers and park signs. There is no waste disposal facility in the park and campers are prohibited from littering or leaving trash in the park. Campers are urged to keep their area clean and sanitary at all times. In case of emergency in the Park, contact the Park Superintendent immediately at 09106368024.