Mayon Volcano (File Photo: Philippine Information Agency)

LEGAZPI CITY (PNA) – Opposition to a proposed lighting project around Mt. Mayon is mounting, forcing Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara to ask the proponent to put the plan on hold.

Ako Bicol (AKB) party president Elizaldy Co proposed the P500-million lighting project during an administration political rally at the Albay Astrodome last April. He said spotlights set up around Mayon would accentuate its magnificent slopes.

The plan, according to AKB, will be a milestone project that will further boost tourism in Bicol.

The party-list group further claimed that lighting up the volcano would “spark” economic activities in the region as it would attract more private investors to do business in Albay.

But netizens, scientists and environmentalists criticized the plan for being impractical and damaging to the environment.

In an interview on Thursday, Bichara told the Philippine News Agency that he would “toe the line” regarding the sentiments of majority of his constituents who are strongly opposed to the plan to light up Mayon Volcano.

He said he would ask for recommendations from environment officials and other stakeholders. “We need to consult and get the sentiments of the people and authorities,” the governor said.

Asked if he would endorse the project, Bichara said, “I have other priority projects in line for the province.”

Dorothy Colle, Albay Provincial Tourism chief, in a text message, said she was “aware of the plan but it needs consultations from all stakeholders. It’s premature for me to give statements pending discussions.”

Lawyer Dominador Barrameda, a retired city prosecutor, said: “Don’t mess with Mayon’s natural beauty. It’s God-given.”

Marcial Tuanqui, former Albay Chamber of Commerce and Industry president, said the project was not in the best interest of Albayanos and the funds must be used instead to light village roads or for other priority government projects.

“Mayon Volcano is best appreciated to be seen in its natural beauty be it in day or night time,” he said. (Mar Serrano, Philippine News Agency)