Nancy Binay now ‘totally against’ BuCor’s Masungi Georeserve plans
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Nancy Binay on Tuesday said she is now “totally against” the plans of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to build a new headquarters within the Masungi Georeserve in Rizal province.
“After ko makita ito (Masungi), I’m totally against the plan. Sabi ko nga, after ng trip na ‘to … ico-convince ko ang aking seat mates (fellow senators) na mag-hiking rin dito para makita nila na may ganitong lugar na kailangang protektahan,” Binay told reporters, folowing the Senate’s ocular inspection of the area.
(After seeing Masungi, I’m totally against the plan. Like I said, after this trip … I will convince my fellow senators to go hiking here and see for themselves that there is a place like this that needs to be protected.)
“Tutol, lalong-lalo na nakita ko na ganito pala ang makikita dito,” she added.
(I am against it, especially now that this is what can be seen here.)
READ: Why Masungi matters
In February, the BuCor asserted its ownership of 270 hectares of the Masungi Georeserve, citing Proclamation No. 1158 issued by then-President Gloria Arroyo in 2006, which reserved “government-owned land” in Barangays Cuyumbay, Laiban, San Andres, and Tinucan in Tanay for BuCor, tagging the areas as the “new site of the New Bilibid Prison.”
The BuCor even floated its plans to build its facilities in the landscape’s “Lot 10” – which contains the central rock spine of the Masungi Georeserve’s limestone karst formation.
According to Binay, however, constructing any building in the area is impossible.
“Una ko pa lang nakita, paano magtatayo ang BuCor dito? Puro bangin, alangan putulin nila bundok para tayuan ng kulungan,” said Binay.
(My first impression was how could BuCor construct here? It’s full of cliffs. They can’t just cut off a mountain to build a prison.)
“Space-wise, ‘yung lupa dito sa Masungi parang hindi ideal to construct, whether it’s a Bilibid o anong facility, parang hindi angkop sa terrain,” she added.
(The land here in Masungi is not ideal for construction, whether it’s Bilibid or whatever facility, it doesn’t seem to fit the terrain.)
When asked what the Senate would do to address the issue, Binay said it would still have to study its next moves, including ways to transfer the reserved BuCor land back to Masungi or a more appropriate agency.
“Kasi, at the end of the day, ang National Bilibid Prison is a part of government, so that is also still government property,” she explained.
“Pag-aaralan pa ng committee kung paano ‘yung (the committee will still study what’s) quickest way to solve the problem,” she added.
Binay also stressed the need to ensure the discontinuity of BuCor’s decision, that halting its plans to construct buildings in Masungi would not only happen under its current administration.
The Masungi Georeserve is a 300-hectare-wide conservation area in the Sierra Madre Mountain Range. It is 600 meters above sea level and is known as a sanctuary for various fauna and flora.
The Masungi Georeserve is mainly characterized by its caves, limestone karst peaks, and surrounding lush rainforests.