The Zamboanga Peninsula Regional Cave Committee (ZamPen-RCC) conducted a meeting at Mibang Hotel, Dipolog City on October 5, 2016 to review, deliberate and adopt the Class II classification of Agustin Cave and Zapanta-Gomez Cave, located in Barangay Lipakan, President Manuel A. Roxas, Zamboanga del Norte. This is a timely development as Zamboanga del Norte will be the host of the Philippine Cave Congress in April 2017.
Accordingly, the cave exploration and assessment on the abovementioned natural resources were conducted during the 3rd Regional Cave Summit held in the same municipality on March 9-11, 2016 with technical assistance from the Regional Cave Assessment Team (RCAT), Zamboanga Peninsula Cavers Association (ZAMPEN) and SpeleoNederlands (Belgium based group). Participants include personnel from the Provincial and Community Environment and Natural Resources Offices (PENROs/CENROs) of DENR9, representatives from the different Local Government Units, Non-Government Organizations and other cave stakeholders across Region 9.
The assessment used three different methodologies, namely: (1) Basic Caving, where the assigned group assessed the flora and fauna and cave resources inside; (2) Cave Survey and Mapping where the topography, terrain and location of the same caves were plotted and (3) Cave Photography which documents in photo the resources found therein.
Based on the report presented by the technical personnel of CENRO Manukan and PENRO Zamboanga del Norte, both caves conform to Class II Classification as defined by Republic Act 9072 (National Caves and Cave Resources Management Act). In the said category, Agustin Cave and Zapanta-Gomez Cave are both recommended to be used for educational tours and guided ecotourism purposes. However, it is to be noted that some parts of these caves may be closed to the public and only expert spelunkers and scientists are allowed to access it due to the presence of important and sensitive biodiversity resources in those areas which may be disturbed or threatened when opened to neophyte cavers.
Upon approval of DENR 9 Regional Director Arleigh J. Adorable, ZamPen RCC will endorse the matter to the Biodiversity Management Bureau for the final classification of these two mentioned caves. [ECPascua - RPAO9].
Jay Mark P. Balbosa from CENRO Manukan presenting the Agustin Cave and Zapanta-Gomez Cave Assessment Report to the Zamboanga Peninsula Regional Cave Committee .
RPAO Representative Elaine C. Pascua requested the technical team to include in the report the specific points or parts of the assessed caves which are open for ecotourism purposes and those that are exclusively for scientific and expert cavers use only.
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