THE planned opening of tourism in Baguio City did not sit well for La Trinidad Mayor Romeo Salda after they were not consulted on the plan.
On Tuesday, September 8, Mayor Romeo Salda said they were not told of the opening of Baguio's tourism and was surprised that a memorandum of understanding was already made between the City Government and Ilocos provinces without consulting Benguet, citing it is important to consult LISTT towns in order to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 and identify protocols that will be in place for the arrival of tourists.
He added there should have been a meeting with Baguio City to resolve issues and concerns regarding the matter.
"Amu da met they are within Benguet apay haan na nga inconsult uray kuma daytoy BLISTT municipality, Governor Melchor, tapnu amu kasatnu met I mitigate, protocols anya aramiden tayu, sigurado nga ag iextend da ditoy Trinidad because of our strawberry. Ngem kasanu met ti ikasta iti Tuba, Sablan, and Kabayan, Bokod because they are passing entering idjay, kasanu ti protocols," the mayor added.
On Thursday, September 10, Kabayan Mayor Faustino Aquisan said that tourism activities, including hiking in Mount Pulag National Park, is not yet allowed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The town of Kabayan is also home to century-old mummy caves.
He said the tourism is the hardest hit amid the coronavirus disease, where the local government previously provided assistance to the affected sectors, which include porters and guides.
Aquisan told Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar that the opening of Mt. Pulag has to be decided not only by the local government unit but also by their partner agencies, such as Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Department of Tourism (DOT).
The chief executive said he also wants to complete the three unfinished tourism roads going to Mt. Pulag.
In the capital town of La Trinidad, Salda said tourist sites such as the Strawberry Farm and the colorful mural painted on the houses of StoBoSa remain closed.
Salda added that following the Municipal Inter Agency Task Force meeting, the Municipal Government plans to open first its nature parks such as Mount Costa, Mt. Kaluggong and Avong ni Romy for La Trinidad residents only.
The mayor explained proprietors of the three sites have met with the local government to discuss protocols and minimum health standards.
Salda added the residents can only go to the area every Saturdays and Sundays and must secure special pass with the barangay.
For Mt. Yangbew, it will remain closed because Barangay Tawang does not want to open the area for visitors.
Cutflowers and souvenir shops in La Trinidad partially opened.
Salda added that some shops are scheduled to open every Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and the other stalls opened every Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
In the mining town of Itogon, the local government unit opened swimming pools and resorts but for residents only.
When the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine was implemented on March 17 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Benguet towns ordered the closure of tourism-related activities, including tourist spots.
As of September 10, there are 208 total confirmed Covid-19 cases in Benguet province, 44 active cases and 163 total recoveries.