The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) suspended the mining production sharing agreements (MPSA) that were granted to three mining companies after they allegedly encroached into the Masungi Georeserve in Baras, Rizal.
“I am suspending the operation of those three MPSAs, and remove the companies’ authority to operate in order to remove the public’s speculation and ease their worries,” said DENR Sec. Sampulna.
“I am also calling all those support groups and environmentalists to be active in helping us by reporting such illegal activities for us to take action immediately,” he added.
The affected mining firms were Rapid City Realty and Development Corp., Quimson Limestone, Inc., and Quarry Rock Group, Inc.,
Sampulna said he also ordered DENR-Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Wilfredo G. Moncano to conduct investigations of other alleged illegal quarrying activities within the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape (UMRBPL).
In 2017, former DENR Secretary Gina Lopez and Masungi Georeserve Foundation Inc. (MGFI) signed a memorandum of agreement covering the 2,798 hectares of land situated inside the UMRBPL.
The UMRBPL, in accordance with the passage of the Expanded National Integrated Protected Area Systems Act or ENIPAS Act, was declared as a protected area in 2018.
In a statement, the Masungi Georeserve urged the DENR to cancel the MPSAs, saying the suspension does not guarantee a full stop of operation.
“In different instances, when there is flooding and public clamor, quarrying is suspended but quickly goes back to operation when the noise subsides. We echo the continued call of experts, communities, and leaders to once and for all cancel the quarrying agreements in Masungi and the watershed, which will show a full and long-term commitment to their conservation,” it said in a statement sent to the Manila Bulletin.
“Non-operation or even a suspension is not a guarantee that quarry operations will not commence in the future. It still gives them runway to eventually operate, despite the many prohibitions to the same. These quarrying agreements were issued inside protected and conserved areas where quarrying is clearly prohibited by law,” he added.
Masungi Georeserve also said that the quarry companies have also committed gross violations constituting breach in their contracts.
“We humbly and continuously call on the Palace and the DENR to intervene, cancel the MPSAs once and for all, and place the safety and welfare of an overwhelming majority over the business interests of a few,” the statement read.