BULUTINAO in San Joaquin, Iloilo is a popular hiking and camping site for tourists, especially during Holy Week. Local government units in southern Iloilo asked campers and hikers to secure permits for their own safety amid recent clashes between state troopers and rebels. (Photo courtesy of Erlyn Alunan, San Joaquin Tourism Officer)
THE Local government units (LGUs) of Miagao and San Joaquin in Iloilo province reminded tourists and even locals who plan to go trekking and camping in their mountains this Holy Week to first coordinate with their offices following the advisory of the Philippine Army.
The Army recently issued an unofficial advisory for tourists to refrain from mountaineering activities in the towns of Miagao, Igbaras, and San Joaquin after the series of armed clashes between the government forces and the New People’s Army (NPA) in Miagao, Igbaras, and Calinog.
San Joaquin municipal tourism officer Erlyn Alunan appealed to tourists and hikers to coordinate and secure permits from the LGU before hiking or camping on the mountains.
“Those who plan to go here and camp, we encourage them to coordinate with the LGU before they go to the mountains considering the Army advisory. Before they trek and be accommodated in the barangays, they should have a permit acquired from the Office of the Mayor,” Alunan said.
Once they secure the permits, Alunan said they would endorse tourists to the barangays where they will be provided with guides and people in authority to ensure their safety.
She lamented that they have no control over tourists and locals who fail to secure permits and coordinate with their office.
Even before the Army advisory, Alunan said that they have been ensuring the safety of tourists, especially during Lenten season.
San Joaquin town expects many tourists who will not only go hiking and trekking, but also visit some of their ecological destinations especially in the Holy Week.
Tourists would usually go to Pan-ay, a shared territory of Miagao and San Joaquin where the access point is at Brgy. Ginot-an in San Joaquin, Alunan said.
“We have so many ecological destinations in San Joaquin, we have caves, we have mountains, waterfalls and many more,” she said.
During this month, Alunan said many barangays celebrate their fiestas across the town and some guests would usually visit their friends and relatives.
Alunan added that they have been maintaining close coordination with the barangays, informing them to accommodate tourists and observe precautionary measures, especially in Geographically Isolated Areas (GIAs).
“We know that our tourists will be affected but we respect the advisory. Ever since, we have always told the barangays to accommodate and protect the visitors,” she said.
Meanwhile, Miag-ao Mayor Macario Napulan also encouraged tourist and locals to coordinate with their office before hiking or going to tourist spots.
For the longest time, Napulan lamented that locals and tourists would usually visit the tourist spots even without coordination with their office.
Napulan added that tourists and locals during Lent would go to some of their tourist spots in Tinagong Dagat and Rice Terraces as part of their tradition.
The mayor said they have been in close coordination with the Philippine Army and their barangays.