"THERE should have been a limit to the number of hikers [to Mt. Pulag]; there was no expectation that the number would be that high," an environment official said.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources Forestry Division (DENR-FD) Regional Technical Director Reynaldo Yawan said the damage assessment on the effects of the December 19 Pulag climb is ongoing.

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Emerita Tamiray-Albas of the Mount Pulag National Park Administration has submitted the official report saying the Pulag climb was a feature of the Kabayan's package tour, "A December to Remember." The package also included a guided tour of the surrounding lakes of the peak.

"There should have been coordination with the DENR to control the number of climbers," Tamiray-Albas admitted.

"We cannot disregard the fact that Pulag is a national park, the DENR must have a say in the number of climbers," Yawan said. The department has recommended only 120 climbers to the peak.

"Though we support the eco-tourism promotion, there is a limit to the number of people climbing," Yawan said. "It is impossible to supervise all 300 hikers then."

The forestry chief also said the eco-tourism events of the municipality must also respect the bio-diversity inside the park.

The frequency of climbs to Mt. Pulag is not restricted but Yawan said the number of hikers should be closely controlled from now on. (Ma. Elena Catajan)