The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has started to dismantle a fenced off area in the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape in Rizal on Sunday, Oct. 25, following reports that armed men attempted to illegally occupy a part of the restoration and conservation site.
According to DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning, and International Affairs Jonas Leones, a team from the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office in Rizal was already at Sitio San Roque, Brgy. Pinugay in Baras town on Sunday to conduct the demolition of illegal structures.
“Together with personnel from Masungi Georeserve, they are now dismantling the fences,” Leones said.
Masungi Georeserve Foundation, which is managing the conservation of the site in Baras town, found out about the illegal activity on Oct. 23 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 of 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,” Masungi Georeserve’s trustee Billie Dumaliang earlier pointed out.
“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,” she said.
Leones said the DENR personnel was expected “to issue a show-cause order to the supposed claimant, and if needed, appropriate cases will be filed against the violators.”
The conservation group on Friday appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to put a stop to the rampant land speculation and trafficking in Masungi, and all other forests and watersheds in the country.
This has been the second time illegal structures and barbed wire fences were built by armed men in the area this year.
Protected areas like the Upper Marikina Watershed and Masungi Wildlife Sanctuary are environmentally critical areas considered as main sources of biodiversity. Disturbances to such conservation areas threaten flora and fauna and water resources, which could affect the food and water supply in the country.
“They have suffered way too long and our collective future from floods, landslides, water loss, and climate change is kept hostage,” Dumaliang stressed.