Hontiveros wants Masungi Georeserve issues investigated

Photo courtesy of Masungi Georeserve

Sen. Risa Hontiveros called on her colleagues to investigate incidents of violence, land-grabbing, illegal logging, and quarrying that has affected the Masungi Georeserve and the rest of the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape.

Hontiveros filed Senate Resolution 231 on 22 September requesting for the appropriate committee in the Senate to investigate the matter.

“We, in government, have a duty to defend the interest of this conservation site as it is a protected area established under Republic Act 11038 or the Expanded Integrated Protected Area Systems Law. We cannot take our environmental defenders for granted,” Hontiveros said, noting that Masungi’s caretakers are constantly subjected to various forms of violence.

She revealed that on 19 September, about 30 armed men allegedly employed by “Sinagtala Security Agency Services” encamped along the Marikina-Infanta Highway, near the conservation area.

She said that the Philippine National Police seized weapons from the group the following day, but declined to make any arrests.

Volunteers and workers of Masungi Georeserve Foundation Inc. have reportedly been threatened and harassed by parties allegedly engaged in illegal quarrying, logging, and land-grabbing in the UMRBPL, which culminated in the shooting of two park officers in 2021.

Hontiveros said the violence against the forest guards compelled her to file Senate Resolution 806, which sought a Senate investigation of the incident.

The Masungi Georeserve Foundation, through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, headed by then Sec. Gina Lopez, entered into a memorandum of agreement covering 2,700 hectares for conservation efforts within the UMRPBL, as well as 300 hectares to be operated as an eco-tourism park for public use.

The resolution said the area is home to over 400 species of flora and fauna, as well as the site of limestone formations.

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