DILG PRESS RELEASE
PR Code No. 2021-07-14-01
July 14, 2021
DILG recommends filing of raps vs officials, entities for illegal logging, construction in protected watershed areas in Rizal
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has recommended to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force (AILTF) the filing of criminal and administrative charges against concerned government officials and private entities for their continued violation of environmental laws in the protected watershed areas of San Roque in Baras, Rizal.
DILG Spokesperson and Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said that officials and private individuals should be held accountable for the illegal entry, illegal logging, and encroachment/construction of a private resort and other infrastructure within the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape (UMRBPL) in Rizal.
Citing reports from the DILG regional and provincial offices and site inspection led by a team of DILG and DENR officials, Malaya said they confirmed illegal cutting of trees and slash and burn activities in some 16 hectares and illegal constructions by GSB Resort along the San Roque main road and waterways which are within the protected areas in Rizal.
“What is also appalling and alarming is the large-scale cutting of trees and kaingin activities covering more than 16 hectares in multiple sections of UMRBPL. Several new structures were also erected in the areas where the trees were burned,” he said. He also said that a portion of the site of burned trees is presently occupied by private entities which have even installed armed guards in the area without any legal authority.
“Binusabos na nga nila ang kalikasan, naghahari-harian pa sila sa lugar at hindi sumusunod sa mga otoridad at sa mga batas para protektahan ang kalikasan,” said Malaya, who is a member of the AILTF created under Executive Order No. 23, s. 2011.
In a letter to DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu through DENR Undersecretary Edilberto DC Leonardo, Malaya said that appropriate charges should be filed against responsible officials and entities for wanton disregard and violation of the Upper Marikina Protected Landscape Declaration and RA 7586 or the National Integrated and Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act; the Revised Forestry Code (PD 705); the Water Code of the Philippines; and the DENR DAO 1993-33 (Masungi Strict Nature Reserve & Wildlife Sanctuary).
“Since AILTF is mandated to take the lead in the anti-illegal logging campaign of the government and to assist the DENR in the enforcement of environmental laws, the filing of charges against concerned officials and groups will put a stop to the wanton destruction currently being done in the area as well as hold accountable the officials responsible,” said Malaya.
The DILG’s actions and recommendations on the issue arose after the Masungi Georeserve Foundation (MGF) wrote a letter to the Department to seek its assistance on the alleged entry and incursion by the GSB Resort allegedly owned by Arnel Olitoquit and Jay Sambilay within the protected watershed areas of San Roque, Baras, Rizal.
“Despite repeated warnings from the government, these establishments continue to build infrastructure in the area. This is detrimental to the country’s environmental preservation initiatives, not to mention our COVID-19 response," Malaya said.
Earlier, DENR Rizal issued a show-cause order to resort owners for maintaining a private mini-resort and fenced off the river as part of the area’s expansion in Sitio San Roque in Rizal in violation of the NIPAS Act even without a permit from the Baras LGU.
Section 20 of the NIPAS Act prohibits the construction or maintenance of any structure, fence, or enclosures and conduct of any business enterprise without a permit within protected areas. Violations will incur a fine of not less than P5,000 to not more than P500,000, or imprisonment of no less than one year to no more than six years, or both as determined by the court.
“The country is already embattled with the COVID-19 pandemic, ‘wag na po natin dagdagan ng pagsira sa ating kalikasan. We should protect our remaining watersheds just like those in Rizal,” said Malaya. ###