Green group renews call for probe into attacks on forest rangers

February 22, 2022

The group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (PNE) renewed its call to investigate the attacks on forest rangers at the Masungi Georeserve following another assault last week.

At midday on February 18, at least 30 “violent mob harassed and detained” forest rangers, according to a statement issued by the Masungi Georeserve.

Kalikasan PNE condemned the attacks, saying the government “truly failed us when the country’s most prolific conservation area continues to be met with violent impunity.”

Leon Dulce, national coordinator of the group, said the country needs “a new leadership that will prioritize defending Masungi’s defenders and other environmental heroes.”

Dulce said the longer land grabbers encroaching Masungi are not prosecuted, “the more we will see bolder acts of violence against its defenders.”

“The risks these land and environmental defenders face intensify especially during the chaos of the election season,” he added.

The Masungi Georeserve is a conservation area situated in the southern Sierra Madre range in Baras, Rizal, 47 kilometers east of Manila.

It centers on the geological formations of Masungi Rock, at an elevation of 640 meters.

The Georeserve accused illegal resort owners in the Upper Marikina Watershed are behind the mob attack.

The mob was reportedly composed of employees of a resort that was issued a “cease-and-desist order” by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for putting up a gamefowl farm, swimming pools, fences, and other permanent structures inside the protected area.

In July 2021, two Masungi rangers were fatally shot by unidentified assailants in a reforestation area in Baras town, Rizal province.

In a statement, the Masungi Georeserve said it will exhaust all possible legal actions “to hold the criminals responsible, including filing criminal complaints against all those involved in this attack immediately.”

“Our rangers have been brave, patient, and tolerant despite the many threats they receive every day for protecting the forest for all of us. They do not deserve this,” it said.

The project’s administration appealed to the national government to “finally give us the protection and support environmental frontliners deserve.”

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