A prefabricated modular structure for enforcers, who will serve as a deterrent against violations of environmental laws, has been donated by Senator Cynthia Villar to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
The joint monitoring team was deployed to preserve and guard the grounds of a protected area—the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape-which included the Masungi Georeserve, the award-winning conservation project site found within the protected area.
DENR Undersecretary for Special Concerns Edilberto Leonardo says the donation will complement the efforts of team formed as a pro-active initiative by the DENR against the intrusions and the conduct of illegal activities at the protected area.
The illegal activities include illegal mining, quarrying, wildlife poaching, slash and burn farming as well as other related operations.
Villar said “there is an urgent need for the DENR to strengthen its law enforcement efforts at UMRBPL and the Masungi Georeserve due to the alarming incidents of encroachment activities on the premises with the presence of armed men, which continuously undermine the conservation efforts and pose threats to the safety of Masungi’s conservationists and volunteers working in the protected area”.
Moreover, she said, the DENR’s lack of presence in the protected area had contributed to the proliferation of the unregulated quarrying operations and other related activities.
These activities are blamed for the degradation of the Marikina watershed, as well as the resulting landslides and devastating flooding experienced by several towns and villages in Rizal and Marikina.
In December last year, the Senate Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change chaired by Villar conducted a hearing-inquiry on the alleged denuded state of forests that largely contributed to the massive flooding in parts of Luzon during the onslaught of typhoon “Ulysses” in November 2020.
The conservation efforts or lack of it at the UMRBPL, which is legislated under the Expanded NIPAS Act, was highlighted.
It was only after Typhoon “Ulysses”, which brought devastating flash floods and landslides to several Rizal towns and Marikina City, that the Rizal government ordered the suspension of all quarrying, mining and other related activities in the province in December 2020.
The DENR–Mines and Geosciences Bureau Regional Office in Region 4-A followed suit with the suspension of 11 quarrying and crushing plant operations within the area.
Despite the suspension orders, the residents of the affected areas in Rizal and in Marikina City and environmentalists are still worried that these quarrying firms will be back.