MT. PULAG Park in Kabayan has been declared closed to trekkers by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Emerita Albas, DENR Park and Management Officer said the Office of the Civil Defense had been consistent in typhoon warnings pushing postponement of trekking activities at the mountain following its closure since Friday last week.
“For public safety, the mandates from OCD are non-negotiable and never a discretionary point, because instead of helping save lives, it may cause further problems. We only have to improve the compliance from the ground level,” Albas said.
Despite the storm warnings, 16 tourists were stranded at the mountain as typhoon raged over the weekend while another five trekkers attempted to climb the sacred mountain despite the foul weather.
The 16 trekkers attempted to trek Mt. Pulag on October 15 but were stranded the following day due to stormy weather and took refuge at the Pulag Protected Area in Ambangeg, Dackan, Bokod, Benguet while the remaining five trekkers who passed through backdoor trails were able to log out from the Babadak Ranger Station in Bashoy, Kabayan, Benguet and have left for Baguio City.
The five tourists, who entered Akiki Trail at dawn entered the National Park without permission from the DENR and later issued distress calls to prompt rescue team to respond.
Albas said organizers of the 16 tourists has since been banned by the DENR for not following standing orders to keep out of the mountain during storms risking lives of both visitors and rangers, guides and authorities.
Ablas added the parks management is asking for assistance from the Philippine National Police to help warn the public on the “No Entry” policy at the park.
The park officer said plans are being eyed for designated “gates of entry” to thoroughly monitor and identify tourists entering the park.
During stormy weather, the policy of the DENR stands that even if tourists have reservations and paid park fees, all hikes will be cancelled and are allowed to trek until the jump-off and first ranger station only.