Mt. Banahaw still a 'no go zone' --MBSCPL-PAMB


Mt. Banahaw still a 'no go zone' --MBSCPL-PAMB

Rafflesia banahawensis

Department of Environment and Natural Resources-CALABARZON Regional Director Reynulfo A. Juan, concurrently chairman of the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) of the Mounts Banahaw–San Cristobal Protected Landscape (MBSCPL), said majority of members of the board in an en banc meeting on February 19, 2016 agreed in passing the resolution "PAMB-MBSCPL Kapasyahan Blg. 001-2016" on the continued moratorium on certain areas of the Mount Banahaw and Mount San Cristobal for another three years, or until February 19, 2019.

PAMB Chair Juan said some members proposed a shorter period of one year but agreed as one body that further preparations should be made before lifting the moratorium. He stressed that the management board's decision was based on the members' recommendation that preparedness in "disaster risk reduction and management" of the local government units, be assured primarily. The municipality of Dolores, Quezon, particularly since it is the most visited part of Mount Banahaw, should prepare. The Dolores side of the PA and some other areas, such as in Lucban, also in Quezon, are found to be highly susceptible to landslides, erosion, flash floods and fire.

Juan said preparation is a must for the concerned LGUs particularly in the strict implementation of the "carrying capacity" or limiting the number of persons at one time within specific a specific site, in "puestos" or pilgrim sites. He added that a visitor management scheme should be in place.

He added that the PAMB also recommended a continued conduct of biodiversity monitoring and assessment and water quality monitoring.

Gene Beloso of the Quezon Provincial Government Environment and Natural Resources Office (Quezon -PGENRO) said he was for the extension of the moratorium for another year, but the PAMB should prepare for the lifting. He emphasized the need for thorough assessment of the resultant effect of the closure and if the reasons for its closure, since 2004, such as water quality or presence of coliform and other contaminants, and other factors have been resolved.

Oliver Viado, chief of DENR CALABARZON's Conservation and Development Division is optimistic that the conduct of the assessment on biodiversity and preparation of the PAMB and stakeholders in the implementation of the management plan for the PA, particularly in the multiple use zones and in the strict protection zones, can be completed in one year.

Randy Matibag municipal environment and natural resources officer (MENRO) of Dolores was open to a more long term extension of the moratorium, but his office will have to prepare in the event of its lifting after a year. He said the PAMB has to be provided with a more concrete basis for (or not) lifting the moratorium.

Salud Pangan, Protected Area Superintendent of MBSCPL, reported that animal and plant wildlife have somewhat flourished in the areas with restricted human activity. She said the rafflesia, said to be the largest flower, has been seen in some parts of the mount. Birds and other animal wildlife have also been seen in bigger numbers. She stressed that the areas where these are sighted are to remain strict protection zones.

Mount Banahaw-San Cristobal Protected Landscape, the first full-fledged protected area in CALABARZON, was declared as such by Republic Act No. 9847 by the Philippine Congress on December 11, 2009 and covers an area of 11,133.30 hectares straddling the provinces of Laguna and Quezon

Declared still off limits until 2019 starts in Kinabuhayan towards the approach to Kristalino Falls to Dungaw, to Tatlong Tangke and back to Kinabuhayan in Dolores, Quezon; and Puesto Pagbuga in Brgy. Bugon and Bagong Ilaya in Brgy. Concepcion, Pinagbakuran and Concepcion Banahaw on the part of Sariaya, Quezon. In the province of Laguna, part of Brgy. Bukal in Nagcarlan; Brgy. Ilayang Sungi and Novaliches in Liliw; and Brgys. Bukal and Taytay in Majayjay.