THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Davao Region (DENR-Davao) warned trekkers from doing indecent behaviors at Mount Apo as this would result in them getting banned from trekking the mountain.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, May 29, DENR-Davao posted a video of a certain trekker drinking wine or liquor at the mountain's peak while making unnecessary noise and showing indecent behavior.
DENR-Davao reminded all trekkers to respect the sanctity of Mount Apo and strictly follow trekking policies imposed by the Protected Area Management Board (Pamb) of Mount Apo. These policies include strict prohibition of nudity, indecent activities, and unnecessary noise.
"Mount Apo is not just about its ecological and wilderness value. It is also remarkable for its cultural significance and is highly respected as it is believed to be the burial ground of Apo Sandawa, the indigenous community’s Great Forefather," the agency said in a post.
It added that they are also calling the attention of the porters and guides to not tolerate these trekkers.
"Violators of the policies set by the PAMB will be held accountable and will be blacklisted or be banned from trekking Mt. Apo. As what we have always called the public for, let’s protect and conserve our dear Mt. Apo," DENR-Davao said.
DENR-Davao regional public affairs office chief Jayvee Jude Agas told SunStar Davao in a phone interview on Sunday afternoon, May 30, that they have not yet reached out to the people involved in the video as the clips were only forwarded by concerned citizens.
"Ang aim sa among pagpost sa (Our aim of posting the) video is just to raise awareness. There are policies that every trekker of Mount Apo should follow," Agas said.
Despite not reaching out to the people behind the viral video, the official said the people on the video are still not free from possible sanctions.
The DENR-Davao official also called out the attention of porters and guides not to tolerate the indecent behavior of trekkers.
Due to the incident, Agas said they will raise the matter for possible crafting of rules and regulations in the next joint Pamb en banc meeting with DENR Davao Region and Soccsksargen, considering Mount Apo is part of two regions.
Agas previously said that Pamb recommended that there will be a regular rehabilitation period of Mount Apo through a yearly three-month closure or “offset season,” particularly from June to August.
The recommendation came up months after DENR-Davao Executive Director Bagani Fidel Evasco, who is also the Pamb chairman, proposed for the temporary closure of Mount Apo to trekkers “due to the unappealing findings from the team’s recent conduct of trail and camp assessment.”
Evasco, together with selected officials and personnel from Davao Oriental and Davao del Sur, recently conducted a trial and camp assessment from February 11 to 14, passing Sitio Paradise Digos trail to Camp Gudi-Gudi then to the summit.
Following the activity, multiple observations were publicly released such as trekkers’ non-observance of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases guidelines on health protocols, occurrence of littering and vandalism, traces of drug substances, and alarming soil cultivation within its Strict Protection Zone.
The director then pushed for its immediate rehabilitation by having it temporarily closed.
However, the majority of Pamb members voted for the deferment of the proposed closure during an emergency en banc meeting on February 23.
Agas also said the recommendation was made to prevent possible forest fires in the mountain in the future.