Nancy Binay seeks probe into BuCor's transfer plan to Masungi Georeserve
Senator Nancy Binay has filed a resolution seeking an inquiry into the reported plan of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to build a new headquarters at the Masungi Georeserve in Rizal.
The lawmaker filed proposed Senate Resolution 495 which tasks the Senate committee on tourism, which she chairs, to investigate BuCor's plan.
"The Masungi georeserve is a symbol of sustainable development and at the forefront of efforts to conserve, restore, and improve the environment in the face of climate change, which must be protected by the government and private sector at all cost," Binay said in her resolution.
"While the initiatives of the Bucor to have a new headquarters and housing for its personnel is reasonable, it is important to weigh the possible consequences of building its headquarters in an Ecotourism site like the Masungi Georeserve, which may affect the environment and tourism in the country," she added.
She cited the statement of Ann Dumaliang, the co-founder of Masungi Georeserve, who said that the site being eyed afor relocation is home to the fragile limestone formations and included in conservation efforts under the Masungi Geopark Project between the Masungi Georeserve Foundation and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, through a valid and binding memorandum of agreement signed by late former DENR Secretary Gina Lopez in 2017.
Further, Binay mentioned the position of scientists from the National Museum of the Philippines who noted that developing the relocation site will have expensive consequences for the environment.
Last week BuCor officer-in-charge Gregorio Catapang Jr. said they are eyeing to build a new headquarters on land in Tanay, Rizal on property that the Masungi Georeserve claims is within its territory.
He said the subject 270 hectares of land is not a relocation site for the New Bilibid Prison.
The agency issued the remark a day after the Masungi Georeserve called for the intervention of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, and Environment Secretary Ma. Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga after BuCor personnel conducted an “ocular inspection” of the alleged “relocation site of the NBP.”
The Georserve said that the BuCor personnel bore a title for over 270 hectares in the name of the BuCor, while the remaining 30 hectares were under the DENR.
Catapang said BuCor is the registered owner of the property, and it “has all the right to conduct any activity in the area, including the questioned ocular inspection.”
Catapang said Bucor's rights on the property were based on the transfer certificate issued in September 2006 under Presidential Proclamation 1158.
He said 30 hectares were reserved as the field office site of DENR under the same proclamation.
Nevertheless, Catapang insisted that BuCor would continue with its plan to establish a headquarters unless the title of the property was nullified.
For its part, the Masungi Georeserve Foundation welcomed Catapang’s professed appreciation for the foundation's conservation efforts.
“It is with this mindset and encouragement that we appeal to him to deem the environment as central to all issues and reconsider BuCor's plans,” the foundation told GMA News Online.
“We also call on President Bongbong Marcos, DENR Secretary Yulo-Loyzaga, and DOJ Secretary Boying Remulla to aid in this matter in the interest of the Philippines’ natural heritage,” it added.
Last Monday, Remulla said the plan to build the new BuCor headquarters in Tanay is not yet final.
The Justice chief said the government will address the issue on Masungi with one voice.—LDF, GMA Integrated News