Palace orders DENR to investigate illegal activities in Rizal watershed


MANILA – Malacañang on Tuesday tasked a Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) task force to investigate alleged illegal activities in the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape (UMRBPL) in Rizal province.

This, after environmentalists and concerned citizens called on the government to rescind quarrying agreements within the 26,126-hectare UMRBPL, fearing that such activities could worsen the extent of flooding in the lower land in the upper Marikina watershed, including cities and communities in Metro Manila. and the province of Rizal.

Acting Presidential Spokesman and Communications Secretary Martin Andanar acknowledged the government’s need to protect the country’s natural resources.

“Safeguarding the environment and natural resources is an important component of our sustainable development,” he said in a press release.

He said he was concerned about reports of alleged development activities, including the expansion of a resort, in the Marikina watershed.

“We urge the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Anti-Logging Task Force to look into the matter and bring the necessary charges against violators of environmental law,” he added.

In a joint letter to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Acting Environment Chief Jim Sampulna, more than 30 environment and education officials said the DENR had not issued a formal cancellation of the mineral production sharing agreements despite statements by former environment secretary Roy Cimatu, who resigned in February.

“The imperative to prioritize environmental conservation and work with different sectors to protect and restore the upper Marikina watershed and Masungi landscape is clear. Mining must be stopped. Conservation must continue,” the letter read.

They said the ecosystem restoration efforts of Masungi and other non-governmental organizations must be fully supported and expanded as they play a crucial role in vital monitoring of forest and biodiversity protection.

Signatories to the letter include environmental lawyer Tony Oposa, former Puerto Princesa mayor Edward Hagedorn and the provincial superior brother of the De La Salle Brothers. Armin Luistro.

Earlier, conservation group Masungi Georeserve Foundation sounded the alarm over the construction and expansion of resorts and a number of fires in the protected landscape.

Masungi Geographical Reserve, located about 47 kilometers east of Metro Manila, is a conservation area and rustic rock garden that is part of the UMRBPL.

The UMRBPL, which covers 26,126 hectares in Rizal Province, plays an important role in regulating water flow to the highly urbanized National Capital Region.

Although it has been declared a protected landscape, threats such as illegal logging, quarrying and mining activities and construction of settlements such as resorts persist. (NAP)


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