By Mar S. Arguelles
LEGAZPI CITY --- City Mayor Noel Rosal has expressed dismay over the hold-up incident that victimized four female tourists from Metro Manila while on board an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) that cruised along the slopes of Mount Mayon on All Saints’Day.
“The incident was an isolated one; I assure our visitors that while security measures are in place—we will see to it that no similar incident will take place in the future,” Rosal told Bicol Mail.
Rosal on Friday last week following the incident met with the City Tourism Officer, the Philippine National Police (PNP)here, village chieftains and the three ATV operators and other stakeholders here.
He said that after assessing what really happened, he immediately directed the ATV tour operators to employ additional security guards and tour guides that to man the surroundings and assist the visitors in keeping them safe during the tour around the volcano.
Rosal warned the operators that he would immediately revoke their permit to operate if they failed to follow his directive.
Rosal likewise directed Police Supt. Eymaro Gomez the City Chief of Police to assign policemen in villages covered by the Mayon tour.
Gomez said that when the hold-up incident took place, most of the policemen were deployed in nine public and private cemeteries in this city. The riding-in-tandem robbers took advantage of the situation and carried out the crime, he said.
When asked if there are security measures being followed by the PNP in dealing with tourists, Gomez said there are security protocols that are being observed.
He said that presently there are six Top Cops or Tourism Cops that have been trained to handle visitors and tourists. These so-called Top Cops are deployed in tourist areas in the city.
Rosal, the concurrent Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) chair, said that at the meeting operators agreed to set up CCTVs including a drone as an additional security measure to safeguard tourists enjoying ATV trail ride around the volcano.
The operators were also asked to employ additional tour guides to assist tourists. They agreed adopt a 2-4 ratio -- meaning two tour guides for every four tourists engaged in ATV trail tour.
ATV tours cover a 2-kilometer trail that starts from Barangay Pawa, passes through Barangay Bunga, and ends at the Mayon Lava wall where tourists scale the lava wall, almost the height of a four-story building in Barangay Mabinit.
There are three ATV tour operators in this city. Another nine operators handle ATV tours around the Cagsawa ruins in nearby Daraga town.
Two robbers on a motorcycle took the cellphones, credit cards and cash of four female tourists on the trail around Mount Mayon on All Saints’ Day, police reported Thursday last week.
According to Calubaquib, the four women tourists were on board their respective all-terrain vehicles, accompanied by two guides, when they were flagged down by the robbers armed with a handgun and a knife.
Police said one of the victims was able to take pictures of the suspects.