Masungi Scores a Major Victory as Quarries in the Protected Watershed are Canceled
After years of fighting the uphill battle of protecting Metro Manila's last line of defense against typhoons and climate change, the Masungi Georeserve Foundation scored a major victory on February 8, 2023 after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources canceled the quarrying operations in Masungi Georeserve and the Upper Marikina Watershed.
"We welcome the confirmed cancellations of three Mineral Production Sharing Agreements within the Masungi Geopark Project and Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape. The Upper Marikina Watershed Coalition recently received copies of the cancellations signed by Undersecretary Juan Miguel Cuna, designated as OIC, dated 19 December 2022," wrote the Foundation in a statement.
"After three years of campaigning, we look forward to seeing these cancellations enforced and reflected on the ground," it added.
However, the battle for Masungi is not yet over as some of the quarries claim vested rights within protected areas and reportedly maintain a presence on site.
"Harmful resorts and land grabbers posing as farmers and IPs have also reportedly ramped up harassment against environment defenders and incursions into reforestation sites," said the Foundation.
The Foundation repeated its call for a direct dialogue with DENR Secretary Antonia Loyzaga to settle mutual concerns on its joint reforestation project.
"We urge the public to be wary of political witch hunts and delaying tactics that aim to coerce environment defenders into giving up, as is being done to Masungi Georeserve and the Upper Marikina Watershed defenders.
Land grabbers and quarrying companies are bent on exploiting the land under the forests of Masungi Georeserve, threatening to destroy the habitat of tens of thousands of plants and animals that seek refuge in this sanctuary.
Throughout its existence, the reserve has ensured the survival of over 400 species of flora and fauna, protected 60-million-year-old limestone formations, planted 40,000 indigenous trees, and employed over 100 locals who are now helping protect this piece of paradise.
Masungi Georeserve is an internationally awarded conservation project that is just a day trip away from Manila. It is the last protective shield of Metro Manila from flash floods, typhoons, and climate change.