The Masungi Georeserve, an award-winning conservation area and rustic rock garden in Tanay, Rizal, is better as an ecotourism site that should be protected, a lawmaker underscored on Tuesday.
Senator Nancy Binay, who chairs the Committee on Tourism, vowed that she will not allow any facility not related to tourism or those that do not protect the environment be constructed in Masungi.
“Malabo talaga. Hindi talaga tayo papayag na ma-convert yung property to (It is unlikely. We will not let the property be converted to) something else. This area is meant to be an eco-tourism destination,” Binay told reporters during her ocular inspection of the area.
She also rallied fellow senators and high-ranking government officials to visit Masungi to be more aware of its situation and appreciate its beauty.
“I think the next step is to bring more people from government to visit the place. Baka magkakaroon tayo ng isa pang ocular inspection at isasama natin yung (We might do another ocular inspection and we will go with) different government agencies,” Binay said.
Binay’s visit to Masungi is part of her committee’s response to Senate Resolution No. (SRN) 231 filed by Senator Risa Hontiveros citing reported illegal activities in the area.
Meanwhile, Binay filed SRN 500 and Senator Pia Cayetano filed SRN 495 both questioning the plan of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to construct its headquarters in Masungi.
“Ang impression ko nung una kong nakita, paano magtatayo yung Bilibid dito, di ba? Alangan naman putulin nila yung bundok para tayuan ng kulungan? So, space wise yung lupa dito sa Masungi hindi siya ideal to construct whether it’s a Bilibid or anong facility parang hindi angkop dun sa terrain ng lupa (My first impression when I saw the area, I asked how will they construct the Bilibid here? Will they cut down the mountain to build a prison? So, space wise, the land here in Masungi is not ideal for a Bilibid or any facility that is not appropriate for terrain),” she said.
The Masungi Rock Formation is within the 300-hectare property owned by the BuCor.
In the previous hearing, BuCor acting Director General Gregorio Catapang Jr. told the committee that they have not decided yet on what to do with the property and are still exploring their options.
Together with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Binay’s committee is currently studying the option to craft a usufruct agreement with the BuCor to ensure that Masungi will be protected.
Apart from preventing the construction of jail facilities in Masungi, Binay also suggested exploring the possibility of widening the scope of the National Parks Development Committee’s mandate under the Department of Tourism to also include maintaining and developing natural parks outside Metro Manila. (PNA)