Sagada mayor seeks stricter measure for tourists


BAGUIO CITY — The mayor of Sagada, another top tourist destination here in the Cordillera region said stricter guidelines for tourists who would trek the highland mountains should be crafted to avoid untoward incidents.

Sagada Mayor James Pooten said that what happened to Songkyu Choi, a Korean national who got lost on his way to Banaue town in Ifugao from Barlig, Mountain Province should serve as an eye opener to local governments and push them to craft better tourism policies and guidelines.

It can be recalled that Choi was declared missing in the mountains of Barlig, Mountain Province on June 10 and went missing for ten days. According to accounts, he set out for Mount Batad in Banaue from Barlig town alone and got lost in the mountains.

After almost ten days of continuous search and rescue operations of the community folks, local government disaster management groups of Mountain Province and Ifugao, Choi was found in a rice granary in Barangay Latang, Barlig on June 20. He was seen by locals who were looking for wild honey.

Choi was immediately brought to the Barlig District Hospital. According to medical personnel Choi was in stable condition except for that he was dehydrated and that his blood pressure had to be stabilized.

Pooten said that while he is happy that Choi was found and well, preventive measures should be put in place to ensure that this will not happen to anyone in the future.

Pooten also commended the volunteers who searched for Choi for their hard work. “But there are lessons that must be learned to avoid such incidents to ensure safety of visitors and to save us from efforts and resources,” he said.

“Even if Choi insisted on going alone, we should have not allowed him to trek alone,” Pooten said.

Pooten pointed out that the visitor was not familiar with the terrain. He called on operators and owners of inns, restaurants and home stays to help monitor their visitors in close coordination with the local government to ensure their safety. #


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