TUBA, Benguet – The Cordillera office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-CAR) created a 14-man committee tasked to prepare the overall master plan for the possible rehabilitation of the Mount Sto. Tomas forest reservation to prepare for its proposed re-opening to visitors.
Mayor Ignacio Rivera said the committee is composed of representatives from the barangays within the jurisdiction of Mount Sto. Tomas, the various offices of the municipal government, representatives from concerned government agencies, various sectors including those who filed the petition for writ of kalikasan for the preservation and protection of the reservation and those from San Fabian, Pangasinan.
“We are on the right track in our efforts to re-open Mount Sto. Tomas to residents and visitors wanting to explore other ecotourism destinations. We just have to patiently wait for actions decided by the committee created for the purpose so that we can put in place measures to sustainably manage the reservation’s forests and lands through a plan,” Rivera stressed.
The local chief executive revealed tourism officials are now coordinating with the people in the established communities within the reservation to properly plan their plantation sites as an added trust attraction in the area once Mount Sto. Tomas will be re-opened for tourism purposes.
According to him, local officials are satisfied with the way things are going because all the concerned sectors are doing their best to contribute suggestions and recommendations to craft the overall master plan for the reservation which must be strictly followed once it will be re-opened to the public.
Proclamation No. 581 issued sometime in July 1940 declared over 3,000 hectares of Mount Sto. Tomas as a forest reservation that covered the barangays of Tabaan Norte, Tabaan Sur, Twin Peaks, Camp 4, Camp 6 and Poblacion.
Mount Sto. Tomas gained national attention when it served as the major setting of a television series of a television network that caused the unmanaged influx of thousands of visitors wanting to experience the scenic tourist spots within the portions of the reservation.
Rivera appealed to concerned stakeholders advocating for the re-opening of Mount Sto. Tomas as a tourist destination to be patient in awaiting the crafting of the appropriate plans and programs for the area to increase its potentials in attracting responsible visitors.
He said everyone is doing his or her part in contributing to the finalization of the master plan for Mount Sto. Tomas, so it is best for residents and visitors to wait until measures are put in place to protect and sustain the attraction of the place.
By Dexter A. See