Suspension of canyoneering sought in southern Cebu towns
CEBU CITY, Philippines—The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) will recommend that canyoneering activities in the towns of Alegria and Badian in southern Cebu be suspended starting June 1 until regulations are put in place to ensure public safety.
PDRRMO Chief Baltazar Tribunalo Jr. said there is a need to regulate the activity, which is considered extreme sports, in the light of four reported accidents involving tourists in the last two months.
“There’s no longer any discipline. We need to look at this again carefully, more so because La Niña is threatening to develop. Water in the rivers will rise and we don’t want any deaths so there is a need to revisit policies,” Tribunalo told reporters Wednesday.
Tribunalo said a team that he sent to the area to conduct an assessment came up with the recommendation, which will be presented to Gov. Hilario Davide III.
He said there has been a proliferation of tour guides who claimed to have undergone training from the provincial government, but actually have not.
Environmental issues, such as improper waste disposal, should also be addressed, Tribunalo added.
He warned that if canyoneering activities persisted in the area, untoward incidents might happen during the rainy season.
“If something happens, the barangays (villages) or the local government units (LGUs) will be blamed,” he said.
Alegria Mayor Verna Magallon acknowledged the findings of the PDRRMO and said Tribunalo’s recommendation was a “wake-up call.”
She said concerned local government units (LGUs) came up with policies regarding canyoneering activities a few months ago but implementation was postponed after tour operators asked for a moratorium during summer to accommodate the visitors.
“We are all worried that this lack of discipline will continue. We will abide by the recommendation of the PDRRMO because we know it is for the good of the whole province,” Magallon said.
Among the guidelines the local governments intend to impose are the need for tour operators to be recognized or accredited by the municipal or provincial governments, tour guides need to undergo training with the PDRRMO on swift water rescue, and stricter rules are needed on the disposal of garbage in the area.
“We are hoping to implement these rules and regulations so that we can maintain the canyoneering area and we can prevent untoward incidents from happening,” the mayor added. RAM/rga