DENR, Masungi foundation in word war over P1.17 billion bill

Bella Cariaso - The Philippine Star
DENR, Masungi foundation in word war over P1.17 billion bill
A sign indicating the Masungi Geopark Project is a restricted area is seen in this February 6, 2021 photo.
Philstar.com / EC Toledo IV

MANILA, Philippines — The word war between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the president of Masungi Georeserve Foundation erupted after DENR said the construction company, which MGF owns, has billed the department at least P1.17 billion for its alleged failure to deliver lands in the government’s own territory.

In a statement over the weekend, the DENR said that based on the latest statement of account sent by Blue Star Construction and Development Corp. (BSCDC) to the agency dated April 11, cited expenses were incurred from the “unrealized delivery” of a 10-hectare parcel of land allocated for the national penitentiary.

The DENR added that the billing included legal, security and miscellaneous expenses, damages incurred from the delay of the delivery of the lot and a monthly rental of P100,000 paid to a “professional squatter.”

The statement also indicated that the expenses were incurred starting in June 2018, the DENR noted.

“The contracts entered into by BSCDC had legal infirmities ranging from unlawful excise of land for housing purposes in a National Park, to award of contracts without bidding,” the DENR investigation committee said.

According to the DENR, as per the disclosures of BSCDC with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), among its key officers and stockholders are company president Ben Dumaliang, Ann Adeline Dumaliang and Billy Crystal Dumaliang.

“The most recent of the series of questionable contracts involving Dumaliang with the DENR is the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the late Environment Secretary Gina Lopez with Masungi Georeserve Foundation on April 25, 2017 for the protection of the nature reserve and wildlife sanctuary. The area covers 2,700 hectares in the city of Antipolo and the towns of Baras, Tanay, Rodriguez, and San Mateo, all in Rizal,” the DENR said.

The DENR added that the MOA gave the MGF a “perpetual land trust” over the area which is now a resort referred to as Masungi Georeserve.

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