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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Now, it’s Masungi Georeserve

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EARLIER this year, the Captain’s Peak Garden and Resort Bohol was temporarily closed by the Department of Environment and Natural Rescourses following a strong backlash and criticism surrounding its construction within the protected Chocolate Hills.

The resort ,opened to the public in 2022, announced its temporary closure on March 14 this year after the online roar. The DENR revealed the resort lacked an environmental compliance certificate.

How it was able to construct all those buildings remains unanswered.

Now, another issue, physically closer to the national capital, is raising similar concerns after House Deputy Minority leader and ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro urged the House leadership to investigate the commercial encroachments of various resorts within the Masungi Georeserve in Tanay, Rizal, only 63 kilometers from Luneta in Manila.

Masungi Georeserve is a protected nature and tourism site under threat from harmful development, which has unique limestone crags and fragile forest which serve as a filter for essential waterways, protecting nearby cities from flooding.

Earlier reports showed the Masungi Georeserve Foundation Inc. called the attention of Erin’s Place and Lihim na Batis on March 19.

These two resorts are in an area within the Upper Marikina River Basin, under Baras town, also in Rizal province.

We agree with Castro when she stressed the importance of the watershed to residents within the area and Metro Manila, especially during the rainy season – now on the doorstep of the metropolis and surrounding provinces, aggravated by the incoming La Niña weather phenomenon.

We cannot over-emphasize her disquietude, if apprehension, that some entities can do what they did in Bohol and in other regions that authorize non-sustainable activities in protected areas.

She is on track in saying laws are not being followed and therefore there is a need to investigate, posthaste, these activities – by private individuals and the seeming lack of a stronger implementation of our laws by those in some government agencies – by Congress before it is too late.

Last March 21, the foundation announced it had found seven more resorts and private developments in areas covered by the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape.

There is really a need to monitor the protected areas nationwide, and be on the lookout for what the Protected Area Management Boards do to spring forth surprises by authorizing non-sustainable activities in protected areas.

We note that in the Philippines, only three percent of primary forests remain due to rampant deforestation, mineral extraction, and poor environmental enforcement.

The area of Masungi Georeserve is a microcosm of these problems in a highly sensitive karst landscape which serves as a natural filter for vital waterways.

We are following developments.

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