DILG chief vows action for Masungi Georeserve; debunks viral photo of armed encampment
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. on Friday vowed action to ensure the safety in the Masungi Georeserve while debunking the viral photos of an allegedly armed encampment.
Abalos told INQUIRER.net that the area is now peaceful, saying that the DILG and Philippine National Police (PNP) will work closely with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
“In order for us to assure everyone na tahimik na diyan, we are going to, with the permission of [the DENR] secretary, baka pwede kami magtayo ng [police] detachment doon,” said Abalos over the phone.
Abalos said this is to help maintain peace and order in the area and deter landgrabbers since the police will be patrolling the areas.
He added that the DILG has also warned the Sinagtala Security Agency Services after the agency’s personnel was caught in the area, which had contested ownership rights.
Debunking the viral encampment photo
Abalos also clarified earlier posts alleging an armed encampment at the Masungi Georeserve, explaining that the vehicles in the viral photos were in the queue for a “talyer” or car repair shop.
The head of the DILG said that the picture that went viral was of old cars and not the security guards whose guns were taken by police.
“Bale yung vehicles nasa kalye, yun yung kinunan ng photo which is the basis of this post,” Abalos said when asked about the vehicles in the photos.
(The vehicles on the street, the photo that became the basis of this post).
When asked if Sinagtala Security had a separate encampment, Abalos said he was unsure, adding that he had police authorities remove the men from the scene.
In an earlier live video from the PNP’s Facebook page, Abalos can be seen touring the media around the Masungi Georeserve.
“Dito, walang armed na encampment. Ang nakita dito ang mga kotseng nakaparada dahil sa talyer nandito,” said Abalos.
(Here, there is no armed encampment. The parked cars were seen because of a nearby car repair shop).
Col. Rodolfo Santiago, Tanay Chief of Police, said that eight vehicles were parked in the area and blocked the way for motorists. However, he said that the police, soldiers, and the local government unit had cleared the site and that it was safe.
As previously reported, the police also clarified that they counted 14 people, not 30 men.
“Wala na po sila sa premises,” said the same police officer.
(They are no longer on the premises).
The administrators of the Masungi Georeserve have previously stated that there were 30 men encamped in the vicinity of the conversion site. The men were reportedly associated with Sinagtala Security Agency Services.
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