12 Mindanao caves declared off-limits
MANILA—Twelve caves in Southern Mindanao have been declared off-limits to spelunkers and may be visited only for scientific and educational purposes, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said Thursday.
Out of 42 newly classified caves in the region, 12 are listed under Class I—caves with archeological findings that may be explored for scientific and educational purposes. These caves may also be used for exploration, mapping and photography.
Nine of them are located in Davao del Norte, two in Davao Oriental, and one in Compostela Valley, the DENR said in a news release.
So far, only 42 of the 500 identified caves in Southern Mindanao have been classified by the DENR in accordance with their best uses.
DENR Region 11 director Joselin Marcus Fragada said the classification would help officials assess and determine the most appropriate sustainable use, protection and management of the country’s caves, including the resources found in them.
“Cave classification is a process of assessing and determining the appropriate sustainable use of caves with due consideration on the cave’s biodiversity as well as its archaeological, historical, cultural and potential socio-economic values,” Fragada said.
Republic Act No. 9072, or the National Caves and Cave Resources Management and Protection Act, mandates the DENR to develop and implement a national program for the management, protection and conservation of caves and cave resources.
It is supposed to do this in coordination with other agencies of the government such as the National Museum, National Historical Institute, Department of Tourism and the local government units concerned.
Caves are classified into three categories, Class I to Class III.
Caves with wildlife that cannot be disturbed are classified as Class II. Visitors, with cave guides, are allowed only to a certain point of the cave. Class III caves are those open entirely to spelunking provided visitors are accompanied by cave guides.
Class III caves are the ones most appropriate for ecological tourism purposes, Fragada said.
The DENR said the Class I caves in Southern Mindanao are Kapunit Cave and GR Cave in the municipality of Kapalong; Mangitngit Cave in San Isidro; Borja Cave in New Corella; Garcia Cave, Baong Cave, Taclobo Cave 1 and 2 and Santol Cave on the Island Garden City of Samal, all in Davao del Norte; Sto. Nino Cave No. 5 in Compostela Valley, and Mera Cave I and Mat-I Cave 3, both in Davao Oriental.
The region has 23 Class II caves, 17 of which are found in Davao del Norte, four in Compostela Valley and two in Davao Oriental.
Caves classified as Class III include four in Davao del Norte, namely: Kambal Cave, Bandera Caves 1 and 2, and Linggasakan Cave; two in Compostela Valley (Sto. Niño Caves 2 and 3) and Mat-I Cave 2 in Davao Oriental.
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