31 mountaineers held for illegal Mayon Volcano hike
LEGAZPI CITY – Thirty-one mountaineers are in hot water after local government agents arrested them on Monday for trekking and climbing the Mayon Volcano Natural Park (MVNP) in Malilipot town in Albay without the necessary clearance and permit.
Sr. Insp. Randy Bachiller, acting chief of the Malilipot police, said the local climbers led by Jeff Mansibang, 31, from Los Baños in Laguna, were intercepted at around 10 a.m. in Barangay San Roque for violating Section 11 of Albay’s Ordinance No. 0023-2016, which prescribes the guidelines for trekking MVNP.
Rommel Candaza, consultant of Malilipot Tourism Office, said the mountaineers were released at around 4 p.m. on Monday after paying 5,000 pesos as penalty for the violation.
According to Candaza, the ordinance imposes a P5,000-fine on first offense, and one year imprisonment against repeat violators.
Candaza disclosed that based on reports from a concerned citizen, the mountaineers started trekking at around 4 a.m. on Sunday at Barangay Bonga in Bacacay town.
“Since Sunday, we started to wait for them in different camps at the foot of the volcano but the mountaineers were able to evade (us) and tried to look for different exit points,” Candaza said.
Meanwhile, the provincial council of Albay are poised to tackle how best to punish those who enter the MVNP especially after the arrest of the local mountaineers.
“I asked them (provincial board) for a meeting to discuss things so that we would know what appropriate action needs to be done,” said Howard Pem Imperial, board member of Albay.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has placed Mount Mayon on Alert Level 1 since September 8, 2016.
In May 2013, at least five mountaineers were killed, including four foreigners, when Mayon Volcano erupted. This prompted the provincial government to craft the ordinance banning the conduct of trekking and mountaineering activities, including crater climbing, on the volcano.
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