Masungi caretakers resist planned wind energy farm
Drilling activities inside conservation area bared

Masungi caretakers resist planned wind energy farm

/ 05:32 AM February 18, 2024

Masungi Karst Conservation Area in Rizal province’s Tanay

FRAGILE ROCKS Aerial shots taken on Feb. 13, with a drone show workers of Rizal Wind Energy Corp. digging into fragile rock formations at the Masungi Karst Conservation Area in Rizal province’s Tanay town. Singapore-based Vena Energy, RWEC’s mother company, said that they had stopped diggings as early as November last year. —PHOTO COURTESY OF MASUNGI GEORESERVE FOUNDATION

Caretakers of the Masungi Georeserve in Rizal province are calling for the revocation of all government permits or certifications for a planned wind energy farm in the fragile protected area.

The Masungi Georeserve Foundation (MGF) last week said Rizal Wind Energy Corp. (RWEC) had been drilling inside the Masungi Karst Conservation Area (MKCA) in Tanay municipality where the company plans to erect 12 wind turbines.


The Board of Investments announced in February 2019 the approval of RWEC’s 603-megawatt power project. It was unclear from the announcement, however, whether all of the electricity that would be produced would come from Tanay or also from wind turbines located in other Rizal towns.


The MGF wants the project relocated outside the protected area as the turbines pose a “fatal” threat to the local bird and bat species. It said that any ground disturbance could also trigger the collapse of sinkholes.

Drilling stopped in Nov

The MKCA is an area made up largely of karst or limestone and other soft rocks that dissolve in water and easily erode, especially with human activity involving heavy machinery.

The Singapore-based Vena Energy, RWEC’s parent company, said on Friday that it had halted all of its drilling, soil testing and other studies in the area since November 2023 following a meeting with representatives from MGF.

“We have been working closely with government authorities, securing all necessary permits, including the environmental compliance certificate (ECC), for the study on the potential of wind energy. We adhere to the applicable laws and regulations on environment and protected areas,” Angela Tan, Vena Energy corporate communications group head, told the Inquirer.

According to the MGF cofounder Billie Dumaliang, RWEC representatives told them that the project was in the “advanced predevelopment stage” in preparation for commercialization after securing permits.

For MGF, the main issue remains—that the turbine project is still pushing through.


Environment Undersecretary Juan Miguel Cuna said on Wednesday that they had provided an ECC for the project.

Cuna said in an interview with Radyo 630 that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) would “come up with mitigating measures to address these impacts to totally eradicate the impact or minimize them.”

He did not explain what the possible impacts of the project were and did not specify the mitigating measures to be taken.

Sensitive species

The MGF on Tuesday said that the erection of the wind turbines would be fatal to the 100 species of birds and 30 species of bats in the area. These include the endangered Philippine hawk eagle and the first recorded flying foxes in Rizal.

The mottle-winged flying fox is a genus of large bats that are found only in the Philippines. Their presence in Masungi, where they were first spotted in August 2022, indicated an abundance of food sources and a healthy forest habitat.

The Masungi Georeserve, about 37 kilometers east of Manila, is about the same size as the La Mesa Watershed north of the Philippine capital.

The foundation said the wind energy project could affect the 500 hectares of MKCA since it involved creating vast road networks and clearing forests and vegetation. It added that this area was very fragile due to underground systems, caves and sinkholes.

Dumaliang said the georeserve covers 2,600 ha of forest land, including 1,600 ha of karts.

The foundation said that MKCA was a natural heritage covered and protected by Presidential Proclamation No. 1636, DENR Department Administrative Order (DAO) 1993-33 and a local ordinance by the Tanay local government unit declaring the MKCA a conservation area.

Multiple-use zones

But according to Cuna, such decades-old policies had been superseded by the 2018 national integrated protected areas system law which divided the whole of Masungi into protected areas and multiple-use zones.

Industrial projects of any kind are disallowed in protected areas to preserve the natural environment. In designated multiple-use areas like MKCA, renewable energy projects like wind farms are allowed, Cuna said.

Dumaliang insisted that the DENR’s old order should still be followed.

“Unless there is an explicit cancellation or lifting of the department order by another DENR secretary, then the DAO is still in effect. In policy, the more specific law or policy applies,” she told the Inquirer on Thursday.

“I challenge them to show me a document repealing the DAO and which secretary signed it,” Dumaliang said.

Lack of consultation

MGF pointed out that given that, under the law, the georeserve was a significant protected area in the country, any activity in the area should be reconsidered despite permits given.“Any permits already given should be revoked on the grounds of lack of consultation from key stakeholders as well as undeniable scientific grounds,” Dumaliang said.

READ: Masungi straddles other protected lands – DENR

In 2023, the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) announced plans to use a 270-ha portion called “Lot 10” of the protected area to build its new site. BuCor said that the MGF “acknowledged and recognized” BuCor’s right to the potential site, but the foundation denied this.

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BuCor cited Proclamation No. 1158 on Sept. 9, 2006, under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in asserting its right to the 270-ha land. According to BuCor, it received a transfer certificate issued by the Registry of Deeds of Moring, Rizal, on Sept. 28, 2022. —WITH A REPORT FROM INQUIRER RESEARCH 

TAGS: Masungi, project, Rizal, wind farm

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