Sen. Nancy Binay has sought a Senate investigation into the reported plan of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to build and transfer its headquarters–including the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP)–at Masungi Georeserve, an ecotourism and conservation site in Tanay, Rizal.
While the initiatives of the BuCor to have new headquarters and housing for its personnel are reasonable, Binay stressed that it is important to weigh the possible consequences of building its new headquarters in the said area as it may affect the country’s environment and tourism industry.
The Masungi Georeserve is a conservation area and a rustic rock garden tucked in the rainforests of Rizal.
In 2019, it has received international recognition for its sustainable tourism practices at the Annual World Tourism Organization Awards.
Binay said scientists from the National Museum of the Philippines previously noted that developing the relocation site will have expensive consequences for the environment.
In her proposed Resolution No. 495, Binay cited the need for a thorough study on the BuCor plan.
The chairperson of the Senate committee on tourism said amid climate change, the government and the private sector should protect and preserve Masungi Georeserves,
Based on Binay’s resolution, BuCor has been claiming 270 hectares of the 300-hectare Masungi Georeserves, which is also home to fragile lime formations.
It was reported that Acting BuCor Director Gregorio Cataoang Jr., in an official statement, stressed that BuCor is the owner of a 270-hectare land in Tanay which is being contested by the Masungi Georeserve Foundation.
He said Proclamation 1258 issued in September 2006 by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo allocated 270 hectares of the land as the new site for the NBP.
Last week, BuCor conducted an ocular inspection of the area where it will reportedly house its new headquarters, including residential and training sites for employees.