The following is a partial list of caves in Region XII (SOCCSKSARGEN).
Safeguarding Philippine Caves
The Philippines is abundantly blessed with an unlimited supply of caves, many of which are still unknown and waiting to be discovered. These caves and all materials and everything else that are naturally inside belong to the country and, as declared in Republic Act 9072, constitute part of its natural wealth. It is no wonder then that national agencies like the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Tourism (DOT), the National Museum, the National Historical Institute, and concerned Local Government Units (LGUs) are joining hands to ensure that caves and cave resources are properly managed, protected and conserved. The national government agencies through the National/Regional Cave Committees have been identifying, documenting, assessing, and classifying caves around the country with the final goal of planning for the proper management, protection and conservation of these caves/cave resources. The three classifications of Philippine caves assessed by the government are:
- Class I Caves – caves with delicate and fragile geological formations, threatened species, cultural, archaeological and paleontological values, and with extremely hazardous conditions. Allowable activity is limited to exploration, mapping, photography, educational and scientific purposes.
- Class II Caves – caves with areas or portions which have hazardous conditions. Contain sensitive geological, archaeological, cultural, historical, and biological values or high quality ecosystem. It may be necessary to close sections of these caves seasonally or permanently. It is open to experienced cavers or guided educational tours/visits.
- Class III Caves – caves generally safe to inexperienced visitors. With no known threatened species and archaeological, geological, national history, cultural and historical values. May also be utilized for economic purposes such as guano extraction and edible birds nest collection.
The National Caves and Cave Resources Management and Protection Act, otherwise known as Republic Act No. 9072, enumerates the actions relative to caves which are unlawful and punishable by law, to wit:
- Knowingly destroying, disturbing, defacing, marring, altering, removing or harming the speleogen or speleothem of any cave or altering the free movement of any animal or plant life into or out of any cave.
- Gathering, collecting, possessing, consuming, selling, bartering, or exchanging or offering for sale without authority any cave resource; and
- Counselling, procuring, soliciting, or employing any other person to violate any provisions of Section 7 (Prohibited Acts) of Republic Act No. 9072.
The punishment for violating this law is imprisonment for 2 to 6 years or a fine of PhP20,000 to 500,000, or both, at the discretion of the Court. The person who provided the funds for the punishable acts is to be imprisoned for 6 years and one day to 8 years, or fined from Php500,000 to 1 million pesos, or both, at the discretion of the Court.
The law is unmistakably geared towards the protection of caves from thieves, vandals, as well as inconsiderate, irresponsible, or careless cave sightseers. If the cave is an Ecotourism destination or in a Protected Area, then it becomes more mandatory for the visitor to hire only licensed ecoguides or accredited cave guides. For their own protection and for the protection of these caves as well, excursionists wanting to visit a cave are made to register, pay certain fees,and undergo some briefing and orientation about the site, the wildlife, the local community, the needed gear, and the do's and dont's of caving.
Remember, too, that only Class III caves and certain parts of Class II caves may be available for ecotourism.
- Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Biodiversity Management Bureau (bmb.gov.ph)
- Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Environmental Management Bureau (emb.gov.ph)
- Philippine Information Agency (pia.gov.ph)
- Department of the Interior and Local Government (dilg.gov.ph)
- Official websites of Philippine provinces, cities, and municipalities
- Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines (officialgazette.gov.ph)
- Republic Act No. 9072; An Act to Manage and Protect Caves and Cave Resources and for Other Purposes
- Agayatin, Maritess V. Cave-Related Policies and Status of Cave Management in the Philippines (pdf). Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) - Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) - Caves, Wetlands, and other Ecosystems Division. 2018.