MANILA -- The Masungi Georeserve Foundation is calling on government officials to take urgent action on the presence of dozens of armed men who have been encamped within the vicinity of their conservatiom site since last week.
The men, said to be from the Sinagtala Security Service, are feared to be planning to take over a huge portion of land in the protected area.
"Let's be clear. This is an invasion," the foundation said in a Facebook post.
They also noted that the men refused to give information or show a valid land title when asked.
The group said the men are violating portions of the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Law, as well as trespassing and conducting forcible entry in broad daylight along a national highway.
"We reiterate the urgent need for the (Department of Environment and Natural Resources), (Department of the Interior and Local Government), and (Philippine National Police) to take immediate action to enforce the laws and mandates they are sworn to uphold, stop this ongoing invasion, and remove the invaders," the foundation said.
"This is a critical area for the wildlife sanctuary and the consequences of losing this area once again will set back forest protection and be a huge injustice to Filipinos," they added.
"We also know that this is simply the first step of how wide-scale occupations actually occur," said Masungi Georeserve Foundation trustee Ann Dumaliang.
"This has happened before in 2016, we know how they run it, we know they capitalize on bringing in huge amount of people so that government isn't able to take them out. DENR should take action now," she said.
"The damage will only get worse. We currently just have a security agency in the field. Once they start building structures, on the sensitive area in this ecosystem, a lot more damage is bound to happen," she added.
--ANC, 19 September 2022