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PIA Press Release

Agencies, LGUs to tighten mountaineering rules

By Mai Gevera

Davao City (24 April) -- National government agencies and local government units involved in the issue of a recent mountaineer's death drowned in Lake Venado, Mt. Apo are now settling loopholes that were believed to have contributed to the said incident.

The said agencies are working closer to identify the real cause of the death of Ian Caasi, a member of the Mindanao Alliance Mountaineering Club of Davao City (MALMOC).

Regional director of the Department of Tourism (DOT XI) Sonia Garcia clarified during the Kapihan sa Davao that the office and other concerned agencies together with the local governments of Digos, Kapatagan, and Sta. Cruz are to review rules and guidelines to safeguard climbers and the environment alike.

Garcia presented the ordinances and guidelines drafted by each LGU. "All these were required from every LGU before they were given the permit to open the site for climbers." She stressed that the Protected Areas Management Board (PAMB) had been strict in requiring these LGUs after the closure of Mt. Apo last 2003.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), on the other hand, will determine the carrying capacity of Mt. Apo so as not to allow LGUs go beyond the number.

The Digos LGU is said to have remained very strict in accommodating climbers as it only allows a maximum of 450 persons to trek the mountain for a period of four days.

The Mountaineering Federation in Southern Mindanao in its upcoming general assembly is also to address the initiation issue as it has surfaced as one of the major reasons for Caasi's death. Caasi was believed to be an initiate of MALMOC and the early morning swim in the said lake was believed to be part of the initiation process.

"I don't believe that Ian is a victim of an initiation. Even so, every mountaineer should be responsible for himself as he decided to climb," said Garcia.

Caasi's group (MAMOC) was reportedly sanctioned by PAMB prohibiting the group members from climbing Mt. Apo for three years.

The DOT has also planned to institutionalize the requirement for every mountaineer to undergo the Basic Mountaineering Course (BMC) before releasing a permit to climb.

"If they fail to undergo the course, then we would be forced to require them to get a porter one on one." This way, the DOT believes that mountaineers should be aware of the rules, their responsibilities as well as their limitations.

Meanwhile, concerned agencies are also into the planning of Mt. Apo subsites to cater all other tourists who would love to have the Mt. Apo experience but could not comply with the strict requirements.

"We are planning to develop Mt. Apo subsites like Kapatagan, Eden, and Catigan because we know that not everyone can climb Mt. Apo," Garcia said. (PIA XI) [top]

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