Summer climb to Mt. Apo suspended due to dry spell
KIDAPAWAN CITY — It’s official. The summer climb to the country’s highest peak – which was to take place next month – would no longer take place although some climbers will still be allowed to scale Mt. Apo under certain conditions.
Joey Recemilla, chair of the ecotourism council and the city’s tourism officer, said the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) has ordered the suspension of April’s trek to Mt. Apo because of the prevailing dry spell.
“We don’t accept bookings as we temporarily suspended the summer climb this year due to dry spell effect on top of the mountain,” Recemilla said.
The measure was aimed at preventing catastrophe such as grass or forest fire.
Recemilla said Mt. Apo’s vegetation has been wilting due to the extreme heat that has also drastically plunged Lake Venado’s water level.
But Recimilla said those who have earlier registered for the summer climb, which numbered about 150, will still be allowed to scale the mountain under tight watch.
“We will allow them to climb but with restrictions,” Recemilla said.
He said those who will be allowed to climb could not use firewood for cooking their food. Their cigarettes will also be confiscated.
Recemilla said the city government was appealing to climbers to understand the situation as they only wanted to protect the mountain from the possibility that grass and forest fires could occur from the use of firewood and cigarettes.
As this developed, officials were studying the possibility of putting the entire city under a state of calamity due to effects of the dry spell.
Councilor Lauro Taynan Jr. said the declaration would pave the way for the city government to extend assistance to affected residents and farmers.
Nesmari Espejo, acting city agriculturist, said in a report that farms in 40 villages here had suffered damages due to the absence of rain.
Espejo said crop damage was now pegged at P7 million, involving some 27.12 hectares of newly-planted rice, 12.3 hectares of corn fields, 17.3 hectares of banana farms and 2.25 hectares of coffee plantations.
“We are still conducting information gathering as to the number of the affected farmers especially in the affected areas,” Espejo said.
Aside from crop damages, seven hogs and a cow also recently died due to the dry spell.
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