By Reyza Ferranco

Sen. Risa Hontiveros wants the Senate to investigate the issues surrounding the Masungi Georeserve conservation site in Rizal following reported incidents of violence, land grabbing, and illegal logging.

Photo Courtesy of Masungi Georeserve

“We, in government, have a duty to defend the interests of this conservation site. [W]e cannot take our environmental defenders for granted,” Hontiveros said in her filed Senate Resolution No. 231 .

On September 17, roughly 30 armed men affiliated with the Sinagtala Security Agency had been reportedly encamping around the vicinity and were planning to seize and sell tracts of land in the protected area.

The residents of Baras, Rizal also staged a protest against the Masungi Georeserve Foundation (MGFI) on September 22, where they accused the foundation of land grabbing within the area.

MGFI later claimed that the rally was staged and part of a systemic disinformation campaign against environmental activists. They asserted that those involved in fraudulent activities were the ones who organized the fake protest.

The foundation continues to reiterate its demand for the authorities to take appropriate action against invaders and to deeply look into the probable anomalous, syndicated activities that are the root cause of these recent incidents.

Meanwhile, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) made a joint commitment last September 23 to safeguard the Masungi Georeserve from intrusion by unauthorized individuals.

The Masungi Georeserve in Rizal is a popular ecotourism destination located in the Upper River Protected Landscape. It is one of the 94 protected areas set up by Republic Act No. 11308, also called the Expanded Integrated Protected Area Systems (E-NIPAS) Law.

Edited by Audrei Jeremy Mendador