Gen. Rodolfo Azurin, Jr. chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said on Friday, Sept. 23, that a police detachment will be set up at the Masungi Georeserve in Baraas, Rizal in order to maintain peace and order amid the reported violence that stemmed from claim of ownership in the 400-hectare land that was already declared as a protected area of the national government.
Azurin said he had already instructed the police provincial director of Rizal to deploy elements of the Provincial Mobile Forces Company and for the regional director of the Police Regional Office 4A to augment the manpower to secure the Masungi Georeserve.
“Initially, we will put up a detachment for the PNP in the contested areas. My guidance is to ensure that peace is ensured in this area,” said Azurin in an interview during the inspection at the Masungi Georeserve on Friday.
The inspection stemmed from the reported presence of at least 30 armed men in a portion of the Masungi last week.
Last year, two forest rangers were shot in the area and in a separate attack, armed men allegedly mauled seven forest rangers in February this year.
The Masungi Georeserve, home to various flora and fauna that include the endangered ones, was declared a protected area in 2011. It has become a tourist attraction in Rizal and was also part of the reforestation project of a private entity in partnership with the national government.
But there were already structures put up in some parts of the area, including houses and resort.
Several individuals, allegedly including retired and active police officials, have been claiming ownership of some areas of the Masungi while some individuals are allegedly showing interest due to mineral deposits that could be mined in the area.
Azurin earlier said they are now coordinating with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to check on why private individuals were able to produce documents showing ownership of parcels of Masungi when the area is already declared as a protected area.
He also ordered an investigation into the involvement of retired and active police officials.
This time, Azurin said Masungi will be secured.
“It’s time that we place things in the proper order. Walang puwedeng papasok rito whether claimant, whether magkiclaim dahil sa this is a protected area. (Nobody is allowed to enter, including claimant because this is a protected area,” said Azurin.