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Illegal settlers in Upper Marikina Watershed evicted


The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has ordered the eviction of illegal occupants inside the Upper Marikina Watershed and Masungi Wildlife Sanctuary in Baras, Rizal due to unauthorized construction of infrastructure in the watershed area.

Last July 30, DENR Undersecretary Jim Sampulna, Environmental Protection and Enforcement Task Force Executive Director Nilo Tamoria, and Rizal Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Isidro Mercado led the demolition of illegal infrastructures and barbed wire fence constructed by occupants belonging to the 19th Quarters Guardians International.

The Masungi Georeserve Foundation, which has reported the illegal activities to the authorities in June, lauded the DENR and municipal government of Baras.

“It is a win for our threatened landscapes and should serve as a warning sign for those attempting similar rackets,” it said in a Facebook post.

“We hope that there will be no compromises in this victory and that perpetrators and their cohorts will be filed charges and penalized accordingly. We must end the culture of impunity when it comes to forest crimes. Let us continue to be vigilant,” it added.

The group pointed out that forest protection must be proactive and preventive to ensure illegal and unscrupulous occupations do not happen again.

“Relief from criminal acts need to be fast and decisive to avert irreversible damage,” the Foundation said.

“It is clear that the pandemic has given rise to opportunists who want to take advantage of nature at this difficult time. If they are not stopped, more outbreaks, landslides, flash floods, water crises, and biodiversity loss are bound to happen,” it said. (Ellalyn Ruiz)