Agta tribe brings fight vs Apeco to SC Baguio City session



AGTA VILLAGERS, in bright red ‘tapis’ and g-strings, march to the Supreme Court in Baguio City on April 17 to dramatize their objections to the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport. EV ESPIRITU/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON

BAGUIO CITY—Agta men in red g-strings and women wearing deep red tapis (wrap-around skirts) marched alongside 100 farmers and Church leaders from Casiguran, Aurora, to the Supreme Court compound here on Wednesday to urge the high court to come out with a final ruling on the legality of the laws creating the Aurora-Pacific Economic and Freeport Zone (Apeco).

The visit here was part of their April 16-22 trek through San Jose City in Nueva Ecija, Pampanga and Bulacan on their way to Manila to dialogue once more with President Aquino. They met Mr. Aquino on Dec. 11 last year after marching for 18 days from Aurora to Manila.

Many of the farmers endured the 370-kilometer march last year to demonstrate their anger because the Aurora economic zone (spanning 12,923 hectares) had allegedly displaced their farms and fishing areas, ignored the Agtas’ rights over their ancestral lands and had affected the claims of agrarian reform applicants, said Fr. Joefran Talaba, parish priest of the Nueva Señora de Salvacion Church that has been supporting the farmers since 2010.

The marchers are returning to Manila to determine whether Aquino “has fulfilled his promise to review the Apeco law,” Talaba said.

Talaba and leaders of the delegation met with lawyer Theodore Te, Supreme Court spokesperson, inside the compound, while the other marchers occupied the road to dramatize their conditions.

The Casiguran petition was filed in 2011. It urged the Supreme Court to nullify laws that created the Aurora Special Economic Zone Authority and the law that created the Aurora-Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon


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  • kipbuts

    The government should listen to the plight and aspirations of the Dumagat-cum-Agta who are the virtual absorber of the project. Teritoryo ng Agta Dumagat ang Casiguran. Sa tagal na ng gobernong ito c. 1898 hanggang ngayon (115 years) na, wala ni isang pamayanan ng katutubo ang napabuti sa mga pinaplanong kabutihan/kaunlaran. Walang umunlad na katutubo. Pangulong Noynoy, sana tuparin niya ang kanyang pangako na busisiin niyang muli ang Apeco. Maraming salamat po.

  • lostRunes

    Vote for Sonny Angara! Responsible for displacing minorities to make way for an airstrip that is for family use only!

  • Castronaut

    I know NHA, DENR and DOST is one of the partners of this project.. I think they know the right for this project if this will benefit them. and maybe we could asked questions about this issue to these government agencies.

  • TylerZO

    Mmmmm.. at the first place kc marami talagang magrereklamo dahil di pa nararamdaman ng mga tao ang ginhawa,,, why give Apeco a chance.. look what happened to Bataan and Subic.. diba maganda ngyari sa lugar nila when they approved to implement Ecozones to their locations? gumanda ang Tourism nila ang the place is awesome.. madami din ngkaron ng trabaho.. just saying.. :)

    • DoReMiFaSoliman

      yeah! the people are so impatient to this project. If i were them,I would give Development enough time. para sa knila din naman kz yn. ano ba gusto nila magstick padin ang Aurora sa isa sa pinakamahirap na province sa bansa?.. tss..

    • etobsify

      Na-agitate kase ng Communist Party of the Philippines front organizations mga kababayan nating katutubo… Research/Study the background of the groups agitating the agtas. Ayaw nilang umasenso ang isang lugar.

  • vanibee

    what harm could possibly give in adding freeport in our country? well for me this will give improvement in economic growth and progress to our country

    • $44479964

      There are things more important than modernity.

    • kismaytami

      Just look at the harm caused by Port Irene.

  • Janinskie

    I understand the people of Casiguran’s hesitation here,,, Pero It’s for them din naman para umangat ang lugar nila..,, It will give positive impact in development growth by this Project. In the end, they are the one who will benefit in it..

    • $44479964

      Preservation of way of life is more important than modernity for these people. This way of life is the source of their life’s meaning. Do you think they can easily adapt to modernity?

    • kismaytami

      The tribes don’t want development. They want to live the life of their ancestors. They should be respected like a house owner should be respected by guests and foreigners in his own domain.

  • Albert Einstien

    KAWAWA nama ang mga TUNAY na FILIPINO….GOVT is cruel…PUSONG BATO si pnoy..puro PROPAGANDA , PAID SURVEYS at BROKEN PROMISES…kelangan lagi syang pipilitin para GUMALAW…tulad jan sa ISSUE ng spratly at panatag..kung hndi pipilitin ng taongbayan WALA syang paki-alam..ganyan din GINAGAWA nya sa SABAH claim..mas KINAKAMPIHAN nya pa ang enemy of the estate & people na MALAYSIA.. na gustong pabagsakin ang gobyerno ng pilipinas at nagTUTULAK ng REBELYON laban sa RP…na ikinamatay ng daan-daan libong filipino at displacement ng milyones na citizens…NOYNOYING na pusong bato pa…

  • Rommie V. Pacana

    Free port for smuggling…

  • Prince Malang

    Those who fail to see that APECO is just a money-making enterprise of the Angaras are either living under a rock for a long time, are blinds, or Angara biased supporters.

    First and foremost, the Angaras are the biggest land speculators and land grabbers in Aurora. Edong has a land title database of all alienable lands in Aurora that he got from LRA, DENR, DAR, National Archives Office, PENRO, CENRO, assesor’s office, etc. If there is a record, Angara will surely get it. The guy just loves land, a passion he got when he became the DENR secretary during Cory Aquino’s regime and saw the potential wealth Aurora would make him andhis family.

    His plan was simple.

    Firstly, title all lands that he could to himself, his family or dummies. To do this he needed to control Aurora. By controlling Aurora it will be easy to implement his plan since he can also control all agencies that have anything to do with land ownership and land titling in Aurora. To control Aurora, he needed the House Representative, Governor, Mayor of Baler (Aurora’s capital and political epicenter). Since the Vice Governor and Vice Mayor controls the the provincial and municipal budget and appropriation respectively, it was to his advantage to secure these posts for his plan.

    Look at who holds these positions in Aurora now:

    House Representative – Edgardo Juan Angara (son)
    Governor – Bella Angara Castillo (sister)
    Mayor, Baler – Arturo Angara (brother)

    Vice-Mayor, Baler – Nelianto Bihasa (political ally & cohort)

    Did you know that Edong was furious and was cursing after his own nephew, Rommel Angara lost the Vice-Governor position to Annabelle Tangson becuse he lost one spot?

    This year Juan the son is running for Senator. Bella will go back to her old post as House Representative. Arthur is gunning for the governor and Rommel is hell bent not to lose this time. Maanwhile Nelianto eyes the Baler mayoralty while Karen Angara, Edong’s niece And Arthur’s daughter is vying for the vice-mayoral post in Baler. If all of them win, Edong Angara has virtually corralled Aurora and its citizens – all subjects to his personal whims and wishes. More importantly he would be able to permanently steal all the alienable lands he could get his eyes on in Aurora.

    The Angara clan only had a dozen or more hectares of land in Baler and San Luis towns of Aurora before the Angaras’ tenure. Since the Angaras rampage in Aurora, Edong was able to title Dikasalarin Cove, an over 200 hectare beach front property that used to be a public land including adjacent lands in Dibut and Digisit. Dikasalarin was a favorite camping ground and picnic area of Balerianos. It is where scouting activities were used to be held. This area with a scant of households has a new road leading to Edong’s newest R&R resport. Reserva, a baranggay 30 minutes from the town where most people live is the place where a new hospital (Japan aid) was built because Edong and his family had purchased tracks of lands. Most developments in Baler are in Reserva and it is where new roads are being paved to raise the value of lands of you know who. Edong was also able to get a hold of most of the APECO lands and its surrounding that he sold to APECO in the name of progress. Edong also illegally “bought” (through manipulation and coercion and in connivance with DENR employees in Aurora) lands that were distributed to landless farmers by virtue of CARP land grants. There are several stories of people selling to him and getting the title upon paying less than half of the land value only to find out that Edong is sudenly “unreachable”. Only if the story ends there but it’s not. Edong is now moving heaven and earth on how he could get idle private lands where the title holders have already died but the heirs are either delinquent on property taxes or have lost interest, transferred to his name.

    To date, Edong, his family and cohorts own thousands of hectares, of prime properties in Aurora, most of them acquired illegally. If there is any alienable land in Aurora that doesn’t have any title yet and Angara is interested in, bet your house on it, Angara will surely get it.

    The second part of the plan was this. Edong will banner Aurora to be a tourism boom town worthy of visiting. It will be to his advantage since the land he got for peanuts (or for saliva) will be worth millions of pesos per hactare if everything works. To augment this, do this he will convince investors to come thus he needs a freeport zone, thus APECO. This is like hitting 2 birds in one stone. APECO will give his family more income, more power and the value of lands surrounding the freeport will appreciate ten-folds. He can also secure a very profitable hotel and entertainment business because his properties are in the right locations.

    This would lead to Spain and Taiwan investing in APECO and Baler becoming the center of the Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day. Not to mention, Juan dela Cruz’s money to develop APECO, and its seaports and airports. All look legitimate and Angaras becoming the champions of the poor of Aurora, replacing the Quezons. In the end, the Angaras will secure the riches of Aurora for generations to come. This at the expense of the Filipino taxpayers and the people of Aurora.

    These are how Angara operates – enrich themselves and emerge as heroes to unsuspecting people. I am pretty sure his kinds do the same because they have the power and money to do so. As long as the likes of Angara are in the office, especially in high posts of the governments, poverty, illiteracy, and corruption will continue in the Philippines.

    The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law that was created for landless farmers so they can afford themselve a decent living and education for their children. However it is the biggest failure of the government since it was ratified in the 1980’s because of the likes of Angara and their cohorts.




  • amado angara

    I just would like to make comments about this project, I’m Angara and the proponent of the project is Sen. Angara, my views on this, is not biased because of my relation with Sen. Angara. Here it is, Since the beginning of the project, the road network of the place have been improved and continue to improve, a little portion of road (Baler-Casiguran) is on-going for its concreting. Before, when we are formulating the Provincial Physical Framework Plan, when we travel along this road on 1996, we will reached Casiguran from Baler of about 6 hours with Private Vehicle. When we narrated with the AusAid Consultant that after 5 to 10 years, the travel time could reduce to 3 to 3 and !/2 hours. The consultant don’t believe us then. It has happened now. including the road network from Baler to Cabanatuan. Now, those Agta Tribe might not be a resident of Casiguran, they might be hired by a person opposing the project. We were investigated the case two years ago, we talked to those supposedly affected persons. We found out that those affected persons are squatters in the Government Reservation (Land) and most of them paying certain amount to an individual with a promise that these farmers will own the land they are tilling (Government Reservation Land). As for the alleged affected Agta resided at Brgy. San Ildefonso. The Apeco provided them work with pay by guarding the forest intend to preserve by the management of Apeco. Now, who are those persons allegedly affected by Apeco. We were seen here in Baler the other day, that their service vehicle (passenger jeepney) having a line of San Jose to Cabanatuan and VV. Do you think, these jeepney will go to Casiguran to fetch those Agta Tribe members? Just asking. Sorry, cool. The project will definitely give development in this part of the world, probably, the municipality of Casiguran and Dilasag will become a City within 5 to 10 years of the Apeco Operations. PLEASE, GIVE CHANCE TO THIS PROJECT. Those priest opposing this one, might just wanted the people to remain ignorant with the development it brings. COOL MAN

  • Guest

    Personally, I think APECO is just misunderstood, and it’s because of articles like this, that makes it remain misunderstood.

  • PabloEsscobar

    It’s like a david and goliath story except david’s the one who’s wrong. Sadly, most people automatically side with him blindly. APECO may be Goliath but APECO is definitely not evil. It’s got a great deal of potential and I don’t want that to slip away because of people who just choose to believe bad(but fake) news.

  • kismaytami

    Paano na yan ngayon, eh yung anak ni tandang angara eh isa sa mga panabong na manok ni aquino sa midterm elections? Wari ko’y, isang malaking himala ang kailangan ng mga katutubo.

  • corymoran

    i think they just need to give a chance to change. i know its hard for people to accept change when they’re so used to a certain kind of living :)

    • BoredRomeo

      true true.. im sure thats just the case naman. hopefully they can be more open to development

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