Assessment team recommends reclassification of Ille Cave
Assessment team of Ille Cave in El Nido, Palawan recommended the reclassification of the cave from Class I to Class II, which proves that selected portions of the cave can be opened for experienced cavers or guided educational tours.
PCSD Resolution No. 15-522, passed in 2015, enlisted Ille Cave under Class I. Caves under this category may only be used for “mapping, photography, educational, and scientific purposes” due to its natural values and hazardous conditions.
On the other hand, caves under Class II also contain sensitive areas and portions, but selected sections can be opened for controlled tours and visits.
PCSD Manual on Caves Classification adopts DENR Memorandum Circular No. 2007-04 which prescribes classification for all caves within public domain and private lands, including those found within protected areas.
Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS) Spokesperson Jovic Fabello said, “Dati kasi ikinlassify syang Class I kahit wala pa talagang full assessment na nagagawa dahil mayroong ginagawang archeological exploration noon sa cave na ito ang University of the Philippines Archeological Studies Program (UP-ASP) and National Museum, kaya ikinlassify na ang major purpose nito ay for archeological, paleontological, and cultural studies.”
Fabello, also a forester and part of the assessment team, said some parts of the cave can possibly be opened for ecotourism since they found no delicate rock formations and threatened species living inside.
“The cave can be used as heritage site as well as archeological and historical site that will serve as an alternative tourist cultural destination in the town of El Nido,” Fabello added.
There are paleohistoric studies done by international researchers that prove the archeological value of the cave which is reported to be one of the oldest rock formations in Palawan.
The reassessment, held last Feb. 25 to March 1, was conducted by PCSDS Cave Assessment Team, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park Cave Management Unit, and Palawan State University Museum, in cooperation with the Local Government of El Nido, UP-ASP, and Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc.
An assessment report containing the team’s findings is yet to be prepared and submitted for the approval of Palawan Council for Sustainable Development.