Petition launched to protect Masungi Georeserve from BuCor threat
February 24, 2023

The Masungi Georeserve houses hundreds of plant and animal species, as well as massive limestone formations. Photo courtesy of Masungi Georeserve Foundation.

The Save Masungi Movement has launched an online signature campaign as part of its efforts to protect the Masungi Georeserve, whose Lot 10 is the location that the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) intends to use for its planned headquarters.

Based in Baras, Rizal, the Masungi Georeserve is a conservation area that houses hundreds of plant and animal species, as well as massive limestone formations.

Specifically, the fragile limestone found in Lot 10 means that developing a large-scale headquarters on its “mountainous and geologically unbuildable” terrain will have drastic environmental costs.

The petition is addressed to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ma. Antonia “Toni” Yulo-Loyzaga. It has around 310 signatures of its initial target of 400 signatures as of writing.

“We, concerned Filipino citizens, oppose the planned transfer of the New Bilibid Prison/BuCor Headquarters/BuCor facilities to the Masungi Georeserve in the Province of Rizal. The Masungi Georeserve is a sensitive karst or limestone ecosystem that is home to precious plants and animals including the rare JC’s vine, the highest count of snail species in the country, 30 species of bats, and threatened native trees,” the petition read.

A scale-feathered Malkoha, one of the rare species found in the Masungi conservation area. Photo courtesy of Masungi Georeserve Foundation

It cited a technical report from the National Museum of the Philippines, saying the Masungi Rock formation is possibly the country’s only remaining large exposure of Paleocene age rock.

“As a karst ecosystem, it is highly susceptible to disturbances in its surroundings… In pursuit of sustainable development and climate change adaptation, let us keep Masungi as it is and find more suitable locations for BuCor’s needs,” Save Masungi Movement posted, using the call-to-action #HandsOffMasungi.

The volunteer group appealed to Filipinos to participate in its campaign to protect the threatened Masungi Georeserve: “We need your voices to help stop the destruction of one of the most celebrated conservation areas in the Philippines.”

Reasons cited by signatories for partaking in the petition include to “protect our nature for our future generation” and “no matter how small or big, we can be a mobilizer for the preservation and conservation of our one and only planet.”

The petition can be found on the website of the Greenpeace Southeast Asia-funded Bataris. This online petition platform has hosted several successful signature campaigns that have reached anywhere from hundreds to over 9,500 signatures.

Such efforts have seen partial and total success, including the cancellation of Philippine projects that are deemed hazardous to the environment.

According to technical report of the National Museum of the Philippines dated April 2022, the Masungi Georeserve “aside from the degradation due to natural processes, also became prone to anthropogenic threats such as mining and quarrying, exploration, development, and exploitation which will lead to the degeneration of the landform.”

The Masungi Georeserve Foundation told Altermidya that it is appealing to the public to remain vigilant as its strives to protect Masungi from different kinds of threats.

“Continue to share our stories from the field and engage decisionmakers on these critical issues that will surely affect our future,” the foundation concluded.

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