TUBA, Benguet – Mayor Ignacio Rivera revealed the scenic Mount Sto. Tomas will be opened to visitors once the local government have completed its obligation to provide tourism-related amenities and facilities in one of the major tourist destinations in the municipality to ensure the sustainable preservation and protection of the forest reservation.
The local chief executive claimed one of the obligations outlined in the completed forest and land use plan of the reservation is for the put up of comfort rooms, solid waste disposal area and other facilities to cater to the basic needs of the tourists visiting the place, aside from identifying places that can be visited to prevent the scenery from being ravaged.
“We will allocate the needed funds in our supplemental budget to start the implementation of our mandated duties and responsibilities in ensuring the good state of the reservation amidst the expected influx of tourists once it will be opened for tourism purposes,” Mayor Rivera stressed.
He added the implementation of the crafted forest and land use plan for Mount Sto. Tomas was done by the environment department in close coordination with the tourism and agriculture departments, the local government and the barangays within the over 3,000-hectare forest reservation.
Rivera claimed one of the issues that must also be addressed by the local government is the parking area for the motor vehicles to prevent the same from clogging the road leading to the frequented places of the reservation, thus, the need for the identification of an appropriate place where vehicles can be parked and people will then be allowed to walk through the must-see places or be ferried by a limited number of motor vehicles that will transport them to their desired destination in the reservation.
According to him, the people living in the communities within the reservation will be obliged to practice agro-forestry so that their plantation sites will be an added attraction for visitors to fully appreciate the beauty of nature while having a 360-degree view of Baguio City and the lowland provinces of La Union and Pangasinan.
Mount Sto. Tomas was virtually closed to tourists after the Supreme Court (SC) granted the writ of kalikasan filed by religious leaders who questioned the destruction of the forest done by former Baguio City Rep. Nicasio M. Aliping resulting to the alleged cutting of over 700 assorted tree saplings and seedlings and the pollution caused by the debris to the sources of potable water of the Baguio Water District (BWD) due to the development he had been introducing in his alleged property.
Rivera underscored tourism is one of the major resource-generating activities in the locality thus the local government is eager to work for the possible opening of a limited portion of Mount Sto. Tomas to visitors on a regulated manner to prevent the designated destinations from being overcrowded that could again result to serious environmental problems.
He appealed to tourists for more patience in awaiting the decision of concerned government agencies on the proposed re-opening of Mount Sto. Tomas after the local government shall have completed their mandatory obligations.
Banner photo by: ARMANDO M. BOLISLIS