A Mob of 30 People Attacks Masungi's Protectors
For no apparent reason, seven rangers of the Masungi Georeserve, a protected sanctuary for wildlife, were attacked by at least 30 people on February 18, 2022.
According to Masungi, the seven rangers were having lunch at a nearby store when a “mob” of around 30 people ganged up on them and attempted to detain them. When the rangers refused to be arrested without a warrant, the mob began clobbering them with fists and rocks.
“When the rangers refused to be accosted without a warrant or due cause, the mob of about 30 people ganged up, clobbered, and mauled seven rangers with fists and big rocks. The rangers’ vehicles were stopped and surrounded by the mob. The windshield of one of the vehicles was smashed with a large rock. Two rangers ended up bloodied in the hospital,” Masungi Georeserve wrote in a statement.
Two rangers were seriously injured and were sent to the hospital.
The attackers also destroyed a vehicle belonging to one of the rangers.
Video: Mob Attacks Masungi Georeserve Protectors
Who was behind the mob?
According to Masungi Georeserve, the people who attacked their rangers were from a resort that is illegally occupying land within the Georeserve.
“The mob was composed of employees of Erin’s Resort owned by an Erwin Lomio (reportedly a manager at Ayala Land), who is a recipient of a Cease-and-Desist Order from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for putting up a gamefowl farm (sabungan), swimming pools, fences, and other permanent structures inside the protected area,” Masungi wrote.
“Another person who led the attack on our rangers is Rey Guiriba, from whom 34 freshly cut trees were confiscated by rangers and turned over to the DENR on January 15, 2022. He boasts to be the caretaker for alleged “properties” of an active PNP general,” it added.
“Another was Jay Sambilay, a suspect in the cowardly shooting of two other park rangers in July 2021. Jay Sambilay is known to be unlawfully claiming large tracts of forest land and was confirmed to be misrepresenting a local organization,” wrote Masungi.
Esquire Philippines reached out to Erin's Place Resort for comment.
‘Despicable Violence Against Forest Defenders’
Masungi vowed to fight back against the perpetrators of the attack.
“We decry this despicable violence against forest defenders and we will do everything in our power to hold the criminals responsible, including filing criminal complaints against all those involved in this attack immediately.”
‘Underhanded Moves from DENR Officers’
Masungi has also accused unnamed officers of the DENR of corruption, offering clearances to resort operators even with existing court orders to cease and desist operations.
“This violence was also likely emboldened by recent underhanded moves from some DENR officers to endorse clearances to the illegal resorts despite their patently incompatible nature and existing Cease-and-Desist Orders,” wrote Masungi.
“Our rangers have been brave, patient, and tolerant despite the many threats they receive every day for protecting the forest for all of us. THEY DO NOT DESERVE THIS.
Let us call for an end to the IMPUNITY and LAWLESSNESS inside the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape which surrounds the Masungi Georeserve.”
Masungi: One of the World’s Last Megadiverse Watersheds
Masungi is part of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range, and is a hotspot of megadiversity in terms of flora and fauna. Currently, teams of scientists and researchers are combing its slopes to document rare and endemic species of flora and fauna.
In a span of one week, scientists were able to discover the cloudrunners, which is a species of rodent that look like tiny pandas, the ultra-elusive musang, and wild white wisteria that only blooms on Valentine’s.