DOJ, BuCor: Development plans for Masungi will be pro-environment | Inquirer News

DOJ, BuCor: Development plans for Masungi will be pro-environment

Masung Georeserve sign at KM47 in Baras, Rizal. STORY: DOJ, BuCor: Development plans for Masungi will be pro-environment

PROTECTION ASSURED The government assures the public that it will do its best to protect and preserve the Masungi Georeserve in Rizal province as it firms up plans to develop idle properties within the area. —NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

MANILA, Philippines — Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla and Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) acting Director General Gregorio Catapang Jr. assured the private caretaker of Masungi Georeserve on Monday that the development plans for the bureau’s 270-hectare property within the protected area in Tanay, Rizal province, would be “pro-environment.”

Catapang also said he was ready to talk to officials of the Masungi Georeserve Foundation Inc. and other environment advocates who earlier asked him to put the interest of the environment first.


“I’m very much willing to talk with them. We will sit down as soon as possible to talk about the plans for the property,” he told reporters.


In a separate interview, Remulla said he had discussed the matter with Environment Secretary Toni Yulo-Loyzaga.

“Secretary Loyzaga and I talked yesterday and will speak with one voice on this matter. There should be no problem. We’re pro-environment, the environment is not our enemy,” he stated, noting that “there are just some people who are alarmists about this.”

“Don’t make the mistake of thinking they are the only ones who can protect the environment; we have many others who want to protect nature,” Remulla said.

According to him, they were still deciding whether to build a new prison for female offenders from Metro Manila or a new headquarters for BuCor on the Tanay property.


“We are exploring everything. Actually, there’s no final decision on that yet… but definitely, we will be needing some of the land that’s not part of the reserve. But most likely we’re thinking of [a prison] for young offenders or women offenders for the [National Capital Region],” Remulla said.

He clarified, however, that they would utilize only the “unused” portion of the geopark.


“What’s important to Masungi is to preserve it. But the other land areas that are not being used will be used by the government,” Remulla said, adding: “Even the title of Masungi belongs to the government. It’s the heritage of the Filipino people, it does not belong to one foundation but to all the Filipino people.”

Catapang, meanwhile, said that the bureau’s plan to move out of Muntinlupa City was part of the “BuCor Development and Modernization Plan 2023-2028,” which he presented to reporters on Monday.

Aside from being the site of the new headquarters, the 270-ha land straddling four barangays within Tanay would also host the new Corrections National Training Institute for BuCor recruits, and a housing site for the bureau’s personnel, including retirees.

A tenement-style housing was likewise being considered for around 1,000 families currently occupying idle lands on the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) Reservation in Muntinlupa City, as well as an agro-business area.

But Catapang admitted that everything would ultimately depend on the findings of experts from the University of the Philippines’ School of Urban and Regional Planning, which BuCor had asked to conduct a feasibility study.

“We will talk to them on how to best develop the area because we also need the area [to achieve our five-year roadmap]. But it will be pro-environment, I assure you. We will not hurt our environment,” he said.

Should the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Justice (DOJ) tell him to defer his plans on the Tanay property, Catapang said he would follow.

“I have no problem with that. I am just a foot soldier. I am just an implementing arm of the DOJ. What the DOJ orders, I will just follow,” he said.

BuCor acquired the right to the 270-ha property when then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Proclamation No. 1158 on Sept. 9, 2006, designating the parcel of land as the new site for NBP.

The bureau, however, received the transfer certificate title of the property only in September last year.

Asked why he was intent on developing the Tanay property, Catapang said: “Actually I want to develop all of them (BuCor’s idle lands)… We don’t want these properties not to be used and neglected, and they would eventually be occupied by informal settlers, making us even lose [them].”

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The bureau has yet to present its five-year development plan to President Marcos who will be asked to issue an executive order directing all national agencies and local governments to support BuCor’s P177.2-billion endeavor.


BuCor eyes new HQ at Masungi Georeserve, relocation site for NBP elsewhere

Makabayan solon slams BuCor plan to build HQ in Masungi Georeserve

Remulla defends BuCor relocation to Masungi as part of decongestion plan

TAGS: Bureau of Corrections, Department of Justice, Gregorio Catapang Jr.

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