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    Probe illegal businesses in Masungi, PNP ordered


    Sep 25, 2022

    FOLLOWING his visit to the Masungi Georeserve Protected Area in Baras, Rizal province, Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr. on Sunday directed the Philippine National Police (PNP) to investigate illegal business enterprises within the conservation site allegedly owned by active and retired police officers and local officials.

    “Elected officials of the government and police officers are bound by their mandate to protect the environment. They should lead a good example to our fellow citizens and be part of the solution, not the other way around. We should protect Masungi and not destroy it Abalos said.

    “We are here not to serve our interests and gain profits. We are here to serve the people,” he added.

    The directive came after receiving reports that active and retired officers of the PNP and local government officials had allegedly erected resorts and commercial establishments at the conservation site.

    Abalos said he expects the PNP to dig deeper into these allegations and exercise due process in identifying the illegal business establishments built within the protected area.

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    “We will not allow this to be owned by a handful of people. So, everyone who would try to erect buildings or conduct business and illegal structures in Masungi, we are warning you: stop whatever it is you are doing because it is against the law,” he said.

    He added that the 2,700 hectares of forest land should be safeguarded from claimants and illegal business people since the site is a protected area under Proclamation 296, s. 2011.

    He also referred to Section 16 of the 1987 Constitution, declaring that “the State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthy ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.”

    Abalos said all government entities must follow the directive of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to protect and preserve the environment against those who seek to exploit and destroy it, especially in the face of global climate change.

    He vowed to maintain peace and order in the conservation site. He already sent a letter to the security agency and warned them of possible license revocation if they cross the bounds of law in the protected area.

    Abalos directed the PNP to establish a permanent encampment in the protected area to prevent infiltration of so-called claimants and the protection of the people working in Masungi, who have reportedly received threats.

    The Masungi Georeserve Foundation released a statement thanking the DILG Secretary and PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. for being “champions” who are “firmly on the side of environmental protection and the safety of its defenders.”

    “We will continue to advocate for peace and order and the utmost security of our citizenship,” Abalos said.


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