Evict Masungi ‘invaders,’ PNP urged

Police intervention to evict armed men allegedly encamped near kilometer 48 of the Marikina-Infanta Highway had been sought by the Masungi Georeserve Foundation on Sunday.

Anne Dumaliang, the foundation’s managing trustee, told reporters that personnel of the Sinagtala security agency had been maintaining a threatening presence since September within the conservation site in Tanay, Rizal.

“We request the immediate action of the government,” Dumaliang said, referring to the environment and local government departments, as well as the Philippine National Police.

She warned that land grabbers had frequently used security agencies and illegal settlers to take over an area by force. “They then sell them (lands) to anyone,” Dumaliang said. “So the government needs to act quickly so the situation doesn’t get worse.”

“If we let them occupy the area, it will be a great loss to the Masungi wildlife sanctuary and the country. The area is part of the Masungi conservation area, Kaliwa watershed protected area, and has been titled to the Republic of the Philippines since the 1950s,” Dumaliang said.

“The action of the government here will determine how serious we are in protecting the natural resources of the Philippines,” she added.

In securing a foothold in the area, the security agency presented a survey plan purportedly signed by a DENR regional officer in the early 2000s, the ecological campaigner said.

She pointed out that the encampment is in violation of the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992, specifically its provision against the building of structures inside areas declared by the government as conservation sites.

The Masungi foundation on 14 September 2022 sent a letter to Environment Secretary Maria Antonio Yulo Loyzaga to inform her of the alleged armed incursions in the protected area within Lot 10 and at the joint Masungi Geopark Project conservation site.

The survey plan presented by the security agency “bears the signatures of responsible DENR CALABARZON officials,” Dumaliang said. “This is reminiscent of another survey plan of Lot 10 also signed by a DENR cartographer and a geodetic engineer subdividing the land among (a certain) Tanchoco and others.”

“The truth is that Lot 10 is a protected area, and a titled property of the government under OCT 3556. Please cause the immediate arrest and prosecution of the invaders,” the foundation urged the DENR in its letter.

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