The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is closely scrutinizing the details of a 2017 memorandum of agreement (MOA) it signed with the Masungi Georeserve Foundation Inc. (MGFI) to ensure its consistency with the country’s laws on protected areas.

DENR-Region 4A Executive Director Nilo Tamoria said the move was in line with the order of former Secretary Roy A. Cimatu to re-evaluate the MOA and ascertain its consistency with the provisions of Republic Act 11038, or the Expanded National Integrated Protected Area Systems (E-NIPAS), which adopts strong amendatory measures to the 24-year old NIPAS law.

"We are now evaluating the consistency of the provisions in the MOA with the E-NIPAS law," Tamoria said in a press conference with DENR OIC Secretary Jim O. Sampulna on February 28.

The MOA covers the operation of an ecotourism park in Baras, Rizal, popularly known as "Masungi Georeserve," which sits inside the 26,124-hectare Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape (UMRBPL)—one of the 94 protected areas declared under the E-NIPAS law.

Tamoria said that the UPMRBPL Protected Area Management Board (PAMB), which he chairs, is holding special meetings to make a review of the MOA and "make recommendations on the way forward."

The MOA covers an area of 300 hectares which MGFI started operating in 2015 as an ecotourism park for public use.

In 2017, MGFI signed the MOA with former DENR Secretary Gina Lopez for conservation efforts within the UPMRBPL covering 2,700 hectares.

The area covered under the 2017 MOA includes a portion of land which is subject of an ancestral domain claim.

The Dumagat-Remontados of Antipolo have a pending application for Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title or CADT covering some 13,000 hectares, or half of the 26,126-hectare total land area of the UMRBPL.

The area covered under the MOA is an offshoot of an earlier joint venture agreement entered into by former DENR Secretary Victor Ramos and Blue Star Development Corporation (BSDC) in 1997 for a housing project for government workers.

This was followed by a supplemental MOA in 2001 between BSDC and then DENR Secretary Heherson Alvarez.