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DENR move to cancel MOA on Masungi hit

“MANILA, Philippines — Environmental group Masungi Geopark has criticized the move of Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga to cancel the 2017 memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the advocacy organization.

In a statement, Masungi Geopark project director for advocacy Billie Dumaliang characterized Loyzaga’s announcement as “untenable and a travesty of justice.”

“As we listen to the Senate hearing on the defacement of protected areas in Bohol and the Upper Marikina Watershed, this announcement of the planned cancellation of our MOA creating the award-winning Masungi Geopark Project reforestation project betrays the DENR’s statements that it is serious in protecting the environment,” Dumaliang said.

Loyzaga informed the Senate that the Masungi Geopark Project was void from the start.

“Who will benefit from this plan? Neither the Filipino people nor the environment. Only the large-scale fraudulent claimants, land-grabbers, quarries and swimming pool resorts that have lobbied for the project’s cancellation because it collides with their interests will benefit from this,” Dumaliang added.

The Masungi Geopark Project has been an inspiration to many and has been touted as a world-class Filipino environment project in the global stage, according to the environmental group leader.

“It was spotlighted at the 2024 World Economic Forum in Davos as one of the best practices in the world for ecosystem restoration and won the 2022 UN Sustainable Development Goals Action Campaign Inspire Awards. The claim that the contract is void ab initio is untenable.

The contract was validly entered into by the DENR secretary under her broad powers under the e-NIPAS Act to enter into agreements with non-state actors in pursuit of conservation. The contract also has all the elements of a valid agreement,” she said.

Dumaliang pointed out that the MOA provision which declares that “the intent of the parties is to constitute the project area as a perpetual land trust” is not a grant or gift of land to the foundation, contrary to malicious insinuations.

“A close reading of the contract will reveal that we can only manage