No legal basis in Masungi contractor’s demand for P1-B, DENR avers

MANILA: The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said the nearly PHP1.2 billion billing it received from the construction company that built the Masungi Georeserve resort in Rizal province for supposed unrealized delivery of commitments has no legal basis

In a news release on Saturday, the DENR said the Blue Star Construction and Development Corporation (BSCDC) sent a statement of account dated April 11, 2024 amounting to PHP1,186,097,554.63 and incurred starting June 2018, as signed by accountant Ma. Lorena C. Dingle.

The billing covers legal fees, security expenses and damages resulting from delayed land delivery, among others.

‘This is to advise you of the following expenses incurred by Blue Star in connection with the unrealized delivery by DENR of Lot 10 OCT No 3556 pursuant to Clause 3.2 of the Joint Venture Agreement,’ the statement of account read.

The letter stated that it was agreed upon that costs associated with the land are chargeable to DENR and applied against the agency’s
share of the project proceeds.

‘Questionable survey plans approved by DENR Calabarzon, such as the plan used by the Lot 10 September 2022 invaders, are making matters worse. We look forward to the immediate and satisfactory clearing of Lot 10 by DENR to stop this unnecessary loss of private and public funds,’ the Blue Star letter read.

However, the DENR Investigation Committee formed in 2019 to look into the contracts said the billing is without legal basis.

‘The contracts entered into by BSCDC (Blue Star) had legal infirmities ranging from unlawful excise of land for housing purposes in a National Park to award of contracts without bidding,’ the Investigation Committee said.

Blue Star’s disclosures with the Securities and Exchange Commission show that among the key officers and stockholders of Blue Star are Ben Dumaliang, Ann Adeline Dumaliang, and Billy Crystal Dumaliang.

The Department of Justice had previously ruled that the government’s “perpetual land trust for conservation” agreement with the Masu
ngi Georeserve Foundation, Inc. (MGFI) in 2017 runs afoul with the limitations set by the constitution.

The legal opinion, through Undersecretary Raul Vasquez, explained that Article XII, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution provides that agreements over all lands, waters, and minerals of the public domain shall be for a period not exceeding 25 years and renewable for another 25 years.

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 Masungi Georeserve resort collects entrance fees from tourists (PHP1,500 per person on weekdays and PHP1,800 on weekends). It offers accommodations starting at PHP5,000 a night and hosts events like weddings and company events with rates starting at PHP120,000. The resort has a restaurant,’ the DENR said.

Among the georeserve’s attractions are a tourist trek to caves, stone formations and trails, rope bridges, and a spider web-like elevated platform with a 360-degree view of the Sierra Madre mount
ain range.

The DENR added that MGFI has no accreditation from the Department of Tourism.

Source: Philippines News Agency