The Bureau of Corrections Has Postponed Plans to Construct Buildings in Masungi
The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), which runs the prisons in the Philippines, has postponed its plans to construct buildings on top of Masungi Georeserve's Lot 10, a 35-hectare land that features fragile limestone formations millions of years old. It is also home to endangered species of plants and animals, many of which are only found in the Philippines.
In a statement, the Masungi Georeserve Foundation welcomed the new development, which extends the survival of thousands of species that thrive in the protected sanctuary.
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla and BuCor acting Director General Gregorio Catapang Jr. earlier promised to make the construction site at Masungi Georeserve “pro-environment.”
"We’re pro-environment, the environment is not our enemy," said Remulla.
However, these words did not satisfy environmentalists and lawmakers, who demanded an investigation into the BuCor's sudden interest in building its headquarters at the heart of the protected reserve.
"Knowing the potential environmental impacts of the plan, we are hopeful that the project will be scrapped altogether," the Foundation said.
Environmentalists and Masungi have called on Environment Secretary Toni Loyzaga to resolve these conflicts within the project site and to prevent future ones.
Female Senators Band Together to Protect Masungi
At the national level, Masungi Georeserve found some of its most powerful allies in government in female senators.
"We thank Senator Nancy Binay for leading the Senate Hearing and echoing the sentiments of the people. We also thank Senator Risa Hontiveros, Senator Pia Cayetano, and Senator Loren Legarda for their authorship of Senate resolutions to investigate the destructive activities in the Masungi Georeserve and the Masungi Geopark Project," said the Foundation.
In her statement during the Senate hearing on Masungi Georeserve, Senator Hontiveros emphasized the sanctuary's importance in protecting Metro Manila.
"It would serve us well to be reminded that people and our rich natural environment are our country's invaluable resources. And Masungi, as the Chair has pointed out, part of the Upper Marikina watershed, helps in regulating waterflow, provides a natural defense against typhoons, and helps prevent catastrophic flooding," said Senator Hontiveros.
Senator Nancy Binay also defended Masungi.
"Masungi plays a crucial role in our conservation efforts. Being at the forefront of efforts to conserve, restore and improve the environment, Masungi provides us with a template of how we can tackle the very urgent issue of climate change," said Senator Binay.