Conservation group Masungi Georeserve Foundation has expressed alarm over the presence of armed men who have constructed a fence in a restoration project area in the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape in Rizal.
The foundation, which is managing the restoration and conservation of the site in Baras, Rizal, found out about the illegal activity last Friday as they were on their way “to reinforce the station of our rangers, who have been bravely protecting this area from rampant illegal logging.”
“The site is part the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape under Presidential Proclamation 296, which can never be any person or any company’s private property, as it is a protected area and wildlife sanctuary. It has been protected by various laws since 1904 as a critical watershed,” the conservation group explained.
“As the authorized manager of the site, we asked for their title or permit, but they could not present any. We likewise gave our contacts so they can submit these, to no avail,” it said.
The Masungi Georeserve explained that without a title, there is simply no ownership, as well as deals of so-called “rights” and tax declarations are not proofs of ownership, especially in protected forestland, it added.
The group appealed to President Duterte to put a stop to the rampant land speculation and trafficking in Masungi, and all other forests and watersheds in the country.
“They have suffered way too long and our collective future from floods, landslides, water loss, and climate change is kept hostage,” it stressed.
The group said it has already sent letters to its implementation partners Department of Environment and Natural Resources, National Bureau of Investigation, local government of Baras, and Barangay Pinugay “to help quash the repeated violations, and abuse and neglect of our forests.”