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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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Tags: Agta tribe , Aurora-Pacific Economic and Freeport Zone , Indigenous people , News , Regions

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