The members of the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) of the Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape (MMPL) will meet in March to consider the possibility of its reopening to local tourists following the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions.
Park area superintendent (PASu) Reynato Gonzaga said the reopening of the national park to local tourists is based on the request by the local government units (LGUs) that share its management.
“May ilan ng LGU, katulad ng Rizal, na nagpo-propose na sana ay mabuksan na ang kanilang mga local tourism katulad ng Singnapan Valley na area ng Tau’t Bato sa Barangay Ransang. Kaya [noong] nakaraan nagkaroon tayo ng consultative meeting sa kanila,” Gonzaga said Thursday, February 17.
Gonzaga claimed that everything involving Mt. Mantalingahan is in the hands of the PAMB, since guidelines from the Department of Tourism (DOT) are still required, especially in light of the ongoing epidemic.
“Need pa ng mga matibay na gabay from DOT, siyempre kung bubuksan ito, may mga gabay na ipapasunod sa LGU para sa mga turista natin sa local. Ito ay para sa ligtas na mountaineering, pagpasok sa loob ng protected area sa gitna pa rin ng pandemya na kinakaharap natin sa ngayon,” he explained.
He claims that reopening Mt. Mantalingahan will result in the resumption of tourism activities in Narra, Brooke’s Point, Sofronio Espaola, Quezon, Rizal, and Bataraza, which will bring in revenue.
Since it was closed to tourism in 2020, the PAMB only allows researchers to visit Mt. Mantalingahan for studies.
“Ang advantage naman nito, naka-rest ang MMPL natin for 2 years din. Siyempre pag-aaralan ito ng PAMB talaga kung kailangan na nating buksan ang MMPL for local tourism,” he said.
Presidential Proclamation 1815, signed on June 23, 2009, declared Mt. Mantalingahan a protected area. It is 120,457 hectares in size and falls under the authority of the municipalities of Bataraza, Brooke’s Point, Quezon, Rizal, and Sofronio Espanola.
Its summit, which stands at 2,085 meters above sea level, is the province’s highest point and is revered by the Pala’wan indigenous peoples.