PH Senate Panel on Tourism to Study Transfer of Masungi Georeserve Ownership

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The Masungi Georeserve in Rizal, Philippines was saved from becoming the Bureau of Corrections’ (BuCor) new headquarters after the agency postponed its plans. However, the Senate panel on tourism is still concerned about the georeserve’s ownership and its future protection.

The Senate panel, chaired by Senator Nancy Binay, is studying how to transfer the area’s ownership to the appropriate government agency.

Binay said that while the BuCor had the “newly minted title” of over 270 hectares of Lot 10 in the georeserve based on a proclamation issued by then-President Gloria Arroyo in 2006, it needs to assure the Senate that it won’t touch the Masungi land, even after the term of BuCor Director General Gregorio Catapang Jr. Binay emphasized that the Masungi Georeserve is not ideal for the construction of BuCor facilities due to the ravines and terrain.

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Binay suggested a memorandum of agreement that would assign the Masungi Foundation as caretaker of the georeserve while waiting for a long-term solution to the problem. The Masungi Georeserve is a conservation area that houses fragile limestone formations protected by the Masungi Foundation. As a geotourism site, it conserves the geographical and historical identity of the place, including heritage and culture.

Binay urged other high-ranking government officials, including Catapang, to visit Masungi to see that it is not proper to convert the area. She also plans to bring her children there and convince her Senate seatmates to do hiking there to see that the place exists and needs protection.

The Senate panel on tourism is committed to finding a compromise to protect Masungi.

Binay said that the quickest way to solve the problem is to transfer the ownership of the area to the appropriate government agency, as the National Bilibid Prison is a part of the government, and the Masungi Georeserve is still government property. Binay also stressed the need for continuity of policy to ensure that the Masungi Georeserve is protected even after Catapang’s term.

The case of the Masungi Georeserve shows the importance of protecting natural resources and the environment. It also highlights the role of government agencies and officials in ensuring that natural resources are not exploited for their own purposes. The Senate panel’s initiative to study the problem and find a solution that benefits both the government and the Masungi Georeserve is a step in the right direction towards preserving the country’s natural treasures.

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