Masungi park rangers file frustrated murder raps vs resort owner, others following shooting

Wheng Hidalgo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 13 2021 09:54 PM | Updated as of Aug 13 2021 09:55 PM

Maas and Akhmad said they were just resting at in Baranggay Pinugay, Baras at 9 p.m. on July 24 when they were fired upon by gunmen. Photo from the Masungi Georeserve's Facebook page
Maas and Akhmad said they were just resting at in Baranggay Pinugay, Baras at 9 p.m. on July 24 when they were fired upon by gunmen. Photo from the Masungi Georeserve's Facebook page

MANILA - Two park rangers from the Masungi Georeserve in Rizal on Friday filed frustrated murder charges against those allegedly involved in a shooting incident at the Marikina Watershed in Baras, Rizal last month. 

Khukan Maas at Melvin Akhmad, who had bullet wounds in the head and neck, filed charges against Arnel Olitoquit, Jay Sambilay, Jonjon Sambilay, Damsana Ipang, Jefferson San Diego, Crisanto Trinidad, and Ephraim Villacruz at the Rizal Prosecutor’s Office on Friday afternoon. 

Maas and Akhmad said they were resting at their ranger post in Sitio San Roque in Baranggay Pinugay, Baras at 9 p.m. on July 24 when the shooting happened. 

The park rangers said Olitoquit, owner of the GSB resort, has continued to expand the resport at a portion of the protected Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape, a part of which is under Masungi Georeserve. 

The resort was supposedly built inside the 2,700 hectares of land under by the Masungi Georeserve Foundation. 

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) earlier recommended the filing of charges against several local officials and establishments in the area over alleged encroachment. 

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Calabarzon Director Nilo Tamoria earlier said he recently signed 43 cease and desist orders against establishments in the Marikina Watershed before the shooting happened.

Masungi managing trustee Ann Dumaliang, meanwhile, questioned the expansion and creation of the resort inside the protected area.

Dumaliang said authorities have repeatedly served cease and desist and show-cause orders against the resort.

The DENR regional office has sought support from the Philippine Army and the Special Action Force unit of the Philippine National Police, he said.

ABS-CBN News went to Olitoquit's home to get his side on the matter but he was not there. ABS-CBN News also tried but failed to get his side via phonecalls. 

Masungi has around 100 local park rangers, many of whom were former illegal loggers before they got the chance to help in protecting the areas.

The Philippines remains as one of the deadliest countries for environment defenders. Forty-six people were killed in 2019 alone because of environment-related issues, most of which are government workers, latest available data showed. 

— with reports from Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

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