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You’ve probably heard about the issue between BCDA president Vince Dizon and the poor Aeta’s who dwelled in the plains and mountains of Capas, Tarlac. This in regard to the 607 Billion Peso ‘New Clark City’. This was located specifically at Clark Special Freeport Zone in Capas and Bamban, NCC is a P607-billion metropolis touted as the country’s first “climate-change resilient” city.
This project was one of the few multibillion-dollar loan deals between the government of China and the Philippines when Xi visited the country November 2018. So it is of no surprise that this rather heartless act of taking away land from the Aeta’s without even an tiny hint of humanitarian considerations. They even floated the fact that Aeta’s does not have legal documents proving that these lands were their ancestral domain.
But this should not have been the case since according publicly available records. The Aeta communities there have applied for Certificates of Ancestral Domain Titles in 1999, 2014 and in 2019 for 18,000 hectares in Capas, Tarlac.
“..Financial compensation is not enough. We need to understand that it is not just homes and livelihood that are being taken away from them. For IP communities, their cultural identity is tied to their lands.” – Sen Risa Hontiveros
According to data from IP group ‘Sandugo’ that the local census showed a staggering number of 42,000 Aeta’s were being forced out of their lands. Worst, the price pegged on each square meter of the said ancestral lands amounts only to a measly ”3o pesos per sq meter”. This is very insulting to the Aeta’s who has lived in these rich and fertile lands for many centuries. Some even say that their cultural identities were tied to the stories of the Hungey, said to be the oldest Aeta tribe in the province.
In fact, due to the flattening of the mountains and the massive construction projects in the area has resulted in major flooding and the distruption of the local ecosystem when researchers found that contractors had redirected the natural flow of Cutcut and Marimla rivers to make way for a 1.4-kilometer river park. As a direct result, the Aeta community is no longer able to properly grow their crops such as rice, banana, and cassava which is where most of their income are coming from.
(See the animated image below on how the contractors flattened the mountains)
Yany Lopez, chair of UP’s geography department and Ortega’s coresearcher, said these drastic changes disturbed the fragile ecobalance of the area which resulted to these negative effects in the distruption of local fauna.
Really? The Duterte regime shamelessly resorted to displacing indigenous Filipinos and destroying the environment for business greed and of course for Chinese commercial interests?
The good Senator Risa Hontiveros has since filed Senate Resolution 257 urging the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities to conduct a probe on the reported eviction of Aetas by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA). Hopefully, we can get more sense of what is happening and I hope that the Aeta’s would be protected from the Duterte regime hell bent intentions to steal their ancestral lands. Despite the fact that the Aeta’s in the area is protected by Republic Act 8371, or the Indigenous People’s Rights Act.