MANILA -The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Friday vowed to protect the Masungi Georeserve Protected Area in Baras, Rizal.
In an ambush interview inside the Masungi Georeserve, DENR Undersecretary Jonas Leones said: "Atin pong pinangangalagaan ang Masungi Georeserve laban sa mga illegal claimants na gumagamit pa ng surveys para sa kanilang claims (We are protecting the Masungi Georeserve against illegal claimants who are even using surveys for their claims)."
"Kapag mapatunayang may mga sangkot na DENR officials dito, they will be properly charged kahit na retired na sila (If proven there are DENR officials involved here, they will be properly charged even if they have already retired)," Leones added.
The DENR made the assurance amidst the claim of Benjamin Dumalya, president of the Masungi Georeserve Foundation, that some 300 hectares of the protected area have already been occupied by illegal claimants.
According to the DENR, the Masungi Georeserve is about 2,700 hectares of forest land located in Baras, Rizal province.
DENR Region IV-A (Calabarzon) Regional Executive Director Nilo Tamoria could only make an estimate that there are some cases of 30 claimants in the Masungi Georeserve, whose surveys are still to be verified and the others are still pending in court.
For his part, DILG Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. said, "the police detachment to be put up ang gagawa ng two things to make sure dahil nga sila ang steward ng government at walang magbabanta (the police detachment to be put up will do two things to make sure... because they are the steward of the government, that nobody will make any threats)."
The threats were allegedly coming from fully armed men roaming in the area of the Masungi Georeserve.
"Magpapatrulya at iikot dito at magiging benchmark yan habang inaayos natin ang gusot dito (They will conduct foot patrols and make rounds here and this will serve as benchmark while we are fixing the problem here)," Abalos said.
"We need to protect this (Masungi Georeserve) for the Filipino and for every Filipino," he said.
Dumalya expressed his profound gratitude to both the DENR and DILG officials for their respective support and assurance. (PNA)