Tanay tribes petition DENR to revoke controversial MOA with Masungi Georeserve

Drone shot of a swimming pool at Masungi GeoreservePhoto courtesy of Masungi Georeserve

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ma. Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga received a petition from Tanay tribes requesting her to rescind the Memorandum of Agreement between the agency and Masungi Georeserve, prior to the receipt of the billing statement of the construction company that built the resort in the environmentally protected Upper Marikina River Basin in Rizal Province.

The Katutubong Pamayanan ng Tanay Dumagat/Remontado Resolution No. 22-2024 obtained by DAILY TRIBUNE from its sources indicated that Indigenous People in the area are against the said MOA.

The MOA was established between the late Environment Secretary Gina Lopez and the Masungi Georeserve Foundation (MGF) on 25 April 2017, aiming to protect the nature reserve and wildlife sanctuary. It encompasses 2,700 hectares in Antipolo City and the towns of Baras, Tanay, Rodriguez, and San Mateo, all located in Rizal.

The MOA gave the MGF a “perpetual land trust” over the area which is now a resort referred to as Masungi Georeserve.

The Katutubong Pamayanan ng Tanay Dumagat/Remontado in their resolution coursed to the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) of Rizal on 23 March 2024 noted that the tribes were not even consulted.

"SAPAGKAT, sa proyektong pagprotekta sa kapaligiran ay hindi naman nagkaroon ng tamang konsultasyon sa aming tribu (WHEREAS, the project that should protect the environment does not go through proper consultation with our tribes)," the group said in their resolution.

The tribes led by its chairman, Adelina Villanueva, expressed that their rights have been violated because they were not even consulted about the MOA.

"SAPAGKAT, ang katuwang na nais namin maging kabahagi sa pagpapaunlad sa aming Lupaing Ninuno at pangangalaga dito ay yung marunong gumalang sa aming Karapatan bilang katutubo at hindi gagamitin lang upang umunlad ang kanilang proyekto (WHEREAS, the partnership that we must have in protecting and developing our Ancestral Land should know how to respect the rights of IPs, not to use us for their own agenda)," the group resolution read.

The MOA, meanwhile, also paved the way for Blue Star Construction and Development Corporation (BSCDC) to invoice DENR on 11 April 2024. It signified that the government has allegedly accrued over one billion pesos due to its inability to provide lands in the government's territory.

The Securities and Exchange Commission's records for Blue Star show that key officers and stockholders of the company include Ben Dumaliang, Ann Adeline Dumaliang, and Billy Crystal Dumaliang.

The Masungi Georeserve resort charges visitors for entry: P1,500 per person on weekdays and P1,800 on weekends. It provides accommodation options from P5,000 per night and facilitates various events such as weddings and corporate functions, with prices beginning at P120,000. Additionally, the resort features a dining establishment.

Ben Dumaliang, Ann Adeline Dumaliang, and Billie Dumaliang are also the principal officers and trustees of MGF.

Daily Tribune