Aquino extends review of Angara’s pet project



CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—President Benigno Aquino III has extended for another two or three months a weeklong review of the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (Apeco), an official of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said on Friday.

During a meeting at Ateneo de Manila University on Dec. 11, the President ordered the review after residents of Casiguran, where the first ecozone in the country’s eastern flank facing the Pacific is rising, went on an 18-day, 350-kilometer march to dramatize their opposition to the pet project of Sen. Edgardo “Edong” Angara.

Much longer than 1 week

Jerik Cruz, communications coordinator of the Church-backed Task Force Anti-Apeco, said the extension of Malacañang’s review period was announced on Dec. 17 in a preliminary dialogue with Neda Director General Arsenio Balisacan.

“We were expecting this would take much longer than one week from the very start. At any rate, it’s impossible to have a credible review of such a complex entity as Apeco in one week,” Cruz told the Inquirer.

Severino Santos, regional Neda director, said: “It will be up to the President to set the final deadline required for the review. We made a quick evaluation to help identify, among others, the next steps and guide the scope of the review to be done in the next three months.”

Santos said Balisacan would oversee the review of the project covering 12,923 hectares of land in Casiguran, including the ancestral domain of Agtas in the San Ildefonso Peninsula.

The Neda Central Luzon office has been asked to provide information about Aurora and its neighboring areas.

Positive development

Malcolm Sarmiento, Apeco president and chief executive officer, said the extension of the review was a “positive development for Apeco.”

“We feel we don’t have anything to hide. The more comprehensive the review is, the more favorable it is for us. The past has been clouded with lies and misinterpretations,” Sarmiento said in a telephone interview. “We are grateful for a fair opportunity to present our side.”

The marchers returned to Casiguran on Dec. 18.

According to Cruz, the marchers secured other pledges from government agencies: The grant of a certificate of ancestral domain title over 11,900 ha in the San Ildefonso Peninsula; the renewal of the integrated social forestry contracts covering 288 ha for another 25 years starting in 2014; a promise to respect the fishing rights of fisherfolk within Casiguran Bay, and the establishment of livelihood projects.

Angara denial

Angara on Friday denied that his decision to withdraw his candidacy for governor of Aurora was prompted by the Apeco controversy in his home province.

He cited his commitments as a leader of the Centrist Democrats International (CDI) for the withdrawal on Thursday in favor of his brother Arthur, the mayor of Baler town.

Angara is vice president for Asia and the Pacific of CDI, an alliance of political parties from Europe and Latin America. The Philippines will host the group’s next meeting in May or June 2013.

“I don’t want to go into local politics after 34 years of public service. I think that’s enough service to our country and I have plenty of projects,” Angara told reporters.

“So, I’d rather do that than be a local official, but the officials of Aurora had wanted me to run and I had accepted that reluctantly.”

He said he was ready to help in the senatorial campaign of his son, Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara. Congressman Angara’s rating in the preelection surveys reportedly suffered a dip recently.

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  • zeroko

    This is a stupid review. There is nothing to review. The Infanta, Quezon Container Port never took of the ground. The Antipolo direct Infanta Road has not yet been functional after all these years. So what can you expect. Actually? Angara has already enrich himself and his clan by illegally cutting logs, ship it on board dozens of ships and unload it a 2 am in the morning when nobody is watching. No surprise that Congressman Angara was able to build a mansion worth no less than a 80 million because of the profit from illegal logging. 

    Guess how much a Congressman recieves as salary? In the year 2011 and prior years, a Congressman only receives P 38,000 pesos a month. So, where could he possibly get so much money.

    The Antipolo-Infanta Highway could have had a travel time of less than an hour, and the distance is about 60 kilometers only compared to the Kasiguran, Aurora Free-Port which is about 350 kilometers. So now you see how the Filipino-Chinese are cheating the tax payers. Each has it’s own pet project. That Free Port in Kasiguran, Aurora claims 12,900 hectares. He he he. Thats about the usable land of Taiwan! Crazy these Filipino-Chinese.

    Remember, another pet project gone to the drain was the 4 billion pesos Jetropa project of the Senator of Maguindanao, Migz Zubiri. That guy was so noisy advocating the green fuel. Look what happened later on? After 3 years, it also fold up. 

    According to those indigenous tribes, 900 million pesos has already been spent on the Angara’s pet project, yet, there is no substantial improvement. He he he. Nations of gullible!.

  • John_Galt_II

    Pinahaba lang para lutuin. Ang daming bakante sa Subic at Clark bakit pa pupunta sa Casiguran. Pinagka kwartahan lang ni Angara yan!

  • EdgarEdgar

    We the taxpayers have already spent P2 billion thus far on Angara’s personal dream city to be built entirely on shifty sand, against the buffeting winds of the Pacific Ocean and not far from the unstable rough edges of a tectonic plate. We don’t need to squander another P353 million in 2013 just to convince ourselves that this is throwing good money after bad. Of all people, Noynoy the chinese president should know that this is bad fengshui and bad economics on top of bad geology and bad science.

    But then again, Edong Angara’s think tank might actually have something else in mind that they’re not sharing with the public. Something like luring in big black money from China just as Singapore is doing through its lucrative gaming industry. Casinos in APECO to launder money for corrupt Chinese politburo members, coupled with HK / Macau / Taiwan triad activities can really provide a boom for Aurora’s tourism industry. But it can also morally corrupt and bankrupt the people of Aurora. Add to the mix a narco hub to supply recreational drugs to China’s growing middle class in the more prosperous coastal cities of eastern and southeastern China. Compared to China’s other narco source from the far far west along the Xinjiang & Afghan border, APECO has the distinct advantage of being closer to China’s affluent cities, being more accessible and therefore having lower transport cost. Let’s also not forget that we have laxer laws and a ready supply of drug mules to provide special door-to-door delivery. With the Angaras’ Chinese connections and Edong Angara’s support for China’s territorial claims, the Angaras could easily reach out to the Mexicans across the Pacific and establish an APECO-Acapulco Narco trade mimicking vaguely the Manila-Acapulco trade of centuries past. And if all else fails, the Angaras can always make a run for the car smuggling business of Enrile’s Port Irene. APECO’s strategic location makes it the perfect pleasure spot for the vices of our northerly neighbors. Not too far, and not too close for comfort of Angara’s motherland China.

    Of sandcastles and pipe dreams. All for the greater glory of the Angarapals, Inc.

  • demonYOU

    They’re just buying time para kapag lumamig na ay saka nila ilalabas ang expected na decision “WALA KAYONG AASAHAN” mga nagrarally na taga aurora! itataya ko ang ulo ni UrHONOR na lalabas si tatang edong angGARA na nakangiti at nakataas ang middle finger!

  • Loggnat

    There is an excellent area in the Casiguran Sound that is very well protected from the Pacific Ocean waves. An ideal place for a seaport that can be located between Casiguran and Dinalungan in the area where the Casiguran airport is located. If not an International seaport, it can be developed as a starting point of tourist sea cruise routes along the Pacific coastal areas. A central location where local and international tourist can fly in from Manila or from Asian cities if the airport is upgraded to international standards. It could be a catalyst to the beginning of a sustainable and world class green tourist destination along the Pacific Coast. The development should be done in small steps or phases that will have predetermined goals and milestones for it to continue to the next phase. And most important of all, prohibit any political families from the management and leadership of the project and leave it all to dedicated business professionals that will work with the surrounding community to minimize damage to their livelihood, the environment and ecosystem of the area. Also make the indigenous people, residents of towns and cities where the development project will be located as active stakeholders to avoid conflict. In a normal world, that is how it is normally done but in the Philippines with its corrupt politicians and snail paced bureaucracy makes it a monumental and uphill battle to accomplished. A pipe dream!!!! Having said that, one can still dream and hopefully still try to make it happen…..:).

  • Jake

    Tama lang any extention na ibinigay ni pnoy para mabigyan ng sapat na panahon ibunyag ang nakakubling anyo ng APECO. Ang tunay nilang pakay ay “Treasure Hunting” kaya di makatarungang pinalayas ang mga tao para walang makakita sa kanilang paghahakot ng ginto at sinadya nilang gumawa ng airstrip sa gitna ng gubat para dito. nanawagan ako kay Father Jose Francisco Talabang na gumawa ng patatanong sa mga tao sa busok busot kung ano ang nangyari noong 1987 at tanungin din ang isang katutubo na nagngangalang “TOTENG” para mapatunayanang location ng hukay noong 1987ay siya rin area ng airstrip ng ginagawa. Para lalo pang maintindihan ng sinasabi ko, Sanay makipag-talastasan sa isang Filipino priest na nasa Holy Family Church-Cerritos CA, USA. Upang maipakita ko ang ibidinsiya.
    Mapamatyag sana tayo dahil pag operational na ang airstrip, simula na nilang itakas ang mga ginto na sanay para sa sambayanang pilipino mabuhay kayo.

    Contact no: 09274731212 ( text only) roaming no.

    J santos

    • ???

      By now, there should only be a few people with direct knowledge of this who are still around. My maternal grandfather who hails from Isabela frequently spoke of this but no one would take him seriously. In 1994, two years before he passed away, a team of researchers from the University of Hawaii was able to trace us in our residence in Canada for an interview. The researchers were all Americans of Japanese descent and were most interested in his oral testimony during and after the Japanese occupation. If this is true, I hope the Philippines will benefit from it and not just a few individuals.

      • 12JEM

         Japanese Treasures left along the route from Infanta to Isabela….In Dingalan, ask San Miguel Corporation…and the date 1983.

  • Albert Einstien

    cancel APECO just give the MONEY to TOURIST ATTRACTION areas like the HUNDRED ISLANDS there are thousands of tourist there YET they DONT have INTERNATIONAL AIRPORTS….imagine the Income & business oppurtunities for the COUNTRY f there is an INT’l airport there…it will be BIGGER than BORACAY….: > )

  • Philcruz

    Angara’s explanation why he decided to withdraw is still unconvincing.  He says he did not really want to run as governor but was only prevailed upon by the people to run. So he accepted the people’s clamor. Good. But now he rejects the people’s clamor?

    So the question still  lingers in the air. What suddenly made Angara decide to reject the people’s clamor? The only plausible reason seems to be the Apeco issue. Does he feel he cannot give a credible defense of it?

    I agree that that port and ecozone needs a thorough review.  That area is on the Pacific side of the country and right smack in the path of the typhoons that usually come from the Pacific Ocean.  No locator worth his salt will want to locate in an area always being hit by typhoons every year. Shipping schedules (especially for export) will be so irregular because of those typhoons. Do they really think the ocean going cargo ships will want to dock at that port to pick up cargoes with such erratic weather?

  • Jose Rizal

    It is apparent that Noynoy didn’t have the grasp of it…that’s why the review is EXTENDED.
    Wow!  He’s so fast on becoming the King of Condom & Pills…but this one.

  • Fulpol

    Balisacan will come to the scene… expect positive generalization in favor of Apeco and Angara..

  • Chloroform

    NEDA should have been consulted before this APECO law was passed. I would not expect much difference form their decision then and now…unless NEDA was not involved in the deliberations…

  • ADD

    Na-gisa n nman tayo sa sariling mantika. Kaya pla pabor si Sen. Angara sa lahat ng presidente eh may hidden agenda pla ito. Gustong angkinin ni Angara ang boung Aurora sa pamamagitan ng Tigas ng Mukha, Kapal ng Apog at Pera ng Bayan. Tsk, tsk, tsk, sayang ung bilyones na pera na napunta sana sa mahihirap.

    Ganun pla diskarte nun sumipsip sa nakaupong presidente at kamkamin ang salapi ng bayan pra angkinin ang Aurora. Ganito din ang ginagawa ni Enrile sa Cagayan.

    Titigas ng mukha, gagamitin pa ang mahihirap sa kanilang pansariling interest.

  • charles

    I think it would be better if all you Angara clan members stay away from politics….the country would be better off with one less greedy dynasty…

  • zeroko

    Magulo ang utak ni Senator Angara. He is out of tune with reality. Remember, he has a bill on the cyber crime to include libel. He he he. Then, he propose that the people will subsidize the political parties. He he he. May Alzheimer disease na yata si Senator. The better move is for him to resign from government offices. It will make our country safer, and more economical. Out of this world lahat ng sinasabi ni Senator. Baka naman, sinile na siya.

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