The Watershed Management Council (WMC) of Davao City asserts that the Brgy. Tamayong trail to Mt. Apo will remain closed and warns the public for consequences of unrestricted access.
“The WMC wants to address the problem of illegal hikers and climbers in Mt. Talomo-Tamayong trail so it issued a resolution supporting PAMB’s decision on the continued closure of Tamayong entry point in Mt. Talomo,” said Chinkie Peliño Golle, Acting Director of Interface Development Intervention Inc. (IDIS), who requested to convene the council for an emergency meeting last April 7.
The council also urged local enforcement agencies to ensure non-entry of climbers in Mt. Talomo and enjoins the City Information Office for the massive information dissemination campaign.
Despite environmental groups’ call to allow more time for Mt. Apo to recover, the PAMB decided to reopen Mt. Apo approving three trails to open. These trails include Kidapawan City, Magpet in North Cotabato and Sta.Cruz in Davao del Sur.
DENR Representative Forester Camilo Victoria explained that LGUs of these areas have submitted the management plans and formed the sub-PAMB required to ensure proper monitoring and regulation. Kidapawan City is also in the process of completing the requirements to be allowed to operate again.
“Davao City has never submitted a management plan nor formed a sub-PAMB because it has no intention of opening the Mt. Talomo-Tamayong trail. What it wants is to have it closed in perpetuity,” said Forester Christopher Asibal of CENRO. Mt. Talomo is the recharge area of Talomo-Lipadas watershed, the current groundwater source of Davao City. It is part of the Mt. Apo Natural Park and is considered sacred by the Bagobo-Klata indigenous community.
“Climbers usually claim to only go to the waterfalls in Mt. Talomo and sought approval of the indigenous community in the area. But there is no enforcement agency present to stop them from going straight to Mt. Apo,” she added.
City Planning Office representative Denton Siapno explained that the Tamayo trail offers climbers a more challenging closed canopy trail. But this is also one of the longest and most dangerous route, hence poses threats to climbers and puts Davao City at risk of accountability should something happen to them given that there is no monitoring or enforcing body in the area.
The Watershed Management Council, by authority of the Watershed Code Ordinance of Davao City, is a monitoring and evaluation body that ensures the protection, conservation, and management of the watershed areas, and issue policies that would ensure the health and sustainability of these watershed areas.
Present during the meeting were representatives from the City Legal Office, City Engineer’s Office, City Planning Office, City Environment and Natural Resources Office, City Tourism Office, DENR, IDIS, Philippine Eagle Foundation, and Foundation for the Philippine Environment.