BACOLOD CITY — The Negros Occidental provincial government reopened on Wednesday its mountain tourist site in Murcia town, now rebranded as the Mambukal Resort and Wildlife Sanctuary, almost two years after it was shut down due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Since April 2020, it has served as a quarantine and isolation center for returning Negrenses and Capitol employees found positive for the virus, but the decreasing local cases eventually reduced the need for the healing facility.
Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said with Negros Occidental being under Alert Level 2 status, the province can now open more destinations to Negrenses.
“Mambukal is like a symbol of our tourism. By having a soft opening, we’re saying that we’re also opening up our tourism, but of course, we continue to ask our visitors to still practice our minimum health protocols,” he added.
The governor said, for now, visitors can enter the resort for free, but they will still be charged when using its amenities.
“We show our firm resolve to gain ground in our recovery efforts for the tourism industry with the soft opening of our very own Mambukal Resort and Wildlife Sanctuary,” Lacson said.
During the opening rites, the governor introduced Executive Order (EO) 21-45, series of 2021, declaring and rebranding the Mambukal Resort as a wildlife sanctuary.
Based on the directive, the area is home to several wildlife species protected under Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.
Considering Mambukal Resort’s characteristic, which is home to among others, “endemic and wildlife species that requires specific human manipulations for their perpetuation, it falls under the category of wildlife sanctuary,” it added.
EO 21-45 also said “hunting, wounding, taking or killing within the said territory of any endemic or wildlife animals/and or the destruction of any vegetation or any act causing the disturbance to the habitat of the wildlife herein protected are hereby prohibited”.
Based on the resort’s general guidelines, only fully vaccinated guests or those with negative RT-PCR or reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction result valid within 72 hours upon entry are allowed in the resort, and children below 11 years old will follow the status of the parent or guardian.
“As we try to reopen tourism, albeit cautiously, let it be known that in doing so, safety will remain to be the paramount criteria, in all of our decisions, for even if we are moving on, we are still in the midst of a pandemic,” Lacson said.