Arrest of 31 Mayon Volcano hikers serves as caution to other mountaineers

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Trekkers who are planning to hike the majestic Mayon Volcano in Albay must be a little bit cautious with the necessary requirements.

On Monday, September 25, 31 mountaineers were a******d for climbing the Mayon Volcano Natural Park in Malilipot, Albay without proper clearance and permit.

Acting chief of Malilipot PNP, Sr. Insp. Randy Bachiller, said the mountaineers led by 31-year-old Jeff Mansibang, from Los Baños, Laguna, were caught at around 10 a.m. in Barangay San Roque.

The team of trekkers violated Section 11 of Albay Ordinance No. 0023-2016, where the guidelines for trekking the Mayon Volcano are stated.

According to Rommel Candaza, consultant of Malilipot Tourism Office, the mountaineers were released on the same day at around 4 p.m. after paying a fine of 5,000 pesos.

He added that based on the municipal ordinance, violators are fined with an amount of Php 5,000 on first offense, and one year behind bars for second offense.

A concerned citizen told Candaza that the hikers started trekking at around 4 a.m. on Sunday at Barangay Bonga, Bacacay, Albay.

“Since Sunday, we started to wait for them in different camps at the foot of the volcano but the mountaineers were able to evade [us] and tried to look for different exit points,” Candaza stated.

Because of the incident, the Albay provincial council are determined to strengthen ordinances that give due punishments to violators – both for the protection of the Nature Park, and the safety of trekkers especially now that Alert level 1 remains in effect over the Mayon volcano.

“I asked them (provincial board) for a meeting to discuss things so that we would know what appropriate action needs to be done,” Albay Board Member Howard Pem Imperial said.

Back in May 2013, four foreigners and one local mountaineer were k****d when Mayon Volcano erupted.

To avoid this tragedy from ever happening again, the provincial government was prompted to make an ordinance that prohibited the trekking and mountaineering activities near the volcano’s crater.