Aurora folk march back to Manila to press fight

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MANILA, Philippines—After four months of allegedly unrealized promises,  residents of Casiguran, Aurora province, decided they have had enough and marched back to Manila.

Prelates have also expressed impatience with the delay of the government’s delivery on its promise to thousands of residents allegedly threatened by the operations of the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (Apeco), which was described by a bishop as “an example of the evils of a political dynasty.”

On Tuesday, some 150 Casiguran residents occupied the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) head office on Elliptical Road in Quezon City to demand that President Aquino and the different agencies abide by their commitments during a dialogue held in December last year.

In a statement, Pinagsamang Lakas ng mga Casiguranin (Piglasca) president Vicente Convicto said that since they met with President Aquino, there had been very few developments in the delivery of the government’s commitments to them.

“The economic review of Apeco has still not yet been released, even though it was assured to us in December that it would be out in two to three months’ time,” he said.

The review was to be undertaken by the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).

Matter of life and death

“We are growing more and more restless, because even while progress on the government’s promises have been delayed, Apeco has been violating even more of our laws since then. Our government must understand that this is a matter of life or death for us,” he said.

Convicto claimed that several incidents of logging and quarrying operations, and land conversions linked to Apeco had taken place in Casiguran since January.

At a press conference on “Apeco: Why Dynasties and Development are Incompatible” held Tuesday at the DAR office, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo expressed the bishops’ support for the crusade of Casiguran residents.

Pabillo, who chairs the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA)-Justice and Peace, cited Apeco as an example of the evils of a political dynasty.

He said those behind the Apeco had the machinery and hold government funds.

“If there is a political dynasty, there is no system of checks and balance. What the former governor did will not be investigated by the new governor if they are related. But if there is no political dynasty, there are checks and balance and we would see that a project is really for the good of all and not only for the benefit of a few groups and one family,” he explained.

Pabillo also scored the long delay and slow progress of the Neda review findings.

In a dialogue held in December last year at the Ateneo de Manila University, the Casiguran marchers were promised the issuance of ancestral domain titles, the renewal of social forestry contracts, and livelihood for small fisherfolk following the release of an Apeco review by the Neda.

“We left Manila last Dec. 19 trusting that our government would stay true to its word. We will be returning to Manila as it has mostly failed to live up to its promises. We will not leave this time until we are sure that truth and justice prevail in Casiguran,” Convicto vowed.

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  • 2rey3

    Still Angara for senator? And a member of the matuwid na daan at that??? NO to Angara for Senator!!!

    • noyab

      ANGARA PAL……ANGARA PAL…..FAMILY….MATODAS NA SANA LAHI NINYO NG DI NA PAMARISAN….

    • wawa2172

      I guess Angara did his part in putting up the Apeco and should relinquish its power to the government without interference. Meaning like Subic, Gordon’s influence has now waned but he left port in good hands by managing it well. Angara does not own Apeco but was just instrumental in its creation. A manager not beholden to power in Aurora should be put in place by PNoy at madali itong gawin kung gusto niya. PNoy however owes the Angara’s big time during Corona impeachment where he courted the senator all the way to Baler to get his vote. The people of Aurora is making their voice heard and I hope PNoy will listened at isantabi na ang utang na loob. Magiging matuwid ang Apeco kung maisaayos ito and it can be done by re-engineering its systems of operation na naayon sa pangangailangan nang Aurora. If Apeco should be converted into something else that would improve the lives of its people of the province then the government should do it. Cong. Angara would surely win the election since he is with Team PNoy but I will not cast my vote on him. I am with the people of Aurora who wants change for good.

  • noyab

    ha ha ha, kasi kayo wag maniwala na may daan matuwid, campaign slogan lang yun ni Panot……kaparti at kapartido niya ang mga ANGARA PAL sa Quezon….

  • noyab

    ha ha ha wag kasi maniwala na may daan matuwid, camapign slogan lang yun ni KALBO, kaparti at kapartido niya ang mga ANGARA PAL sa Quezon…..he he he….ano masasabi lacierda and valte…tama ba….

  • amado angara

    Noyab, Reynaldo Quijada, have you ever asked those marchers, where they are residing? This writer, Jeannette I. Andrade, never knew the real situation in Casiguran, Aurora, She just knew that the marchers are from Casiguran (kuno). The marchers are from Mount Pinatubo @ Zambales hired and paid by religious sector for their own interest. You can prove that APECO is a good project in the Northern Municipalities of Aurora if you are going there and make some investigations. Never write article or comments on this issue if you do not know the real situation in the place. Pleasssseeeee. cool. thanks

  • corymoran

    Omg really? This is really annoying. Once again they’ll be grandstanding? I didn’t believe them the first, why would I believe them again? I understand that they have stories and they have a priest leading them, but I really don’t trust that priest and I know for certain that their intentions aren’t good I know that most of those marchers are illegal land owners there. APECO is for casiguran and aurora. It is for the people who are LEGALLY in it, it’s for development and in turn for our country.

  • BoredRomeo

    wow, with articles like this, APECO will certainly be misunderstood, and once again we will be wasting another opportunity for growth. APECO’s intentions are great, and it would be an amazing project once executed properly, and isn’t that the reason why it’s being reviewed by NEDA and isn’t this why we are constantly revising it for the better? Think about it.

  • PabloEsscobar

    para sakin okay ang APECO, Bahala kayo kung ano iisipin niyo, basta para sakin okay ang APECO.. gusto ko magprogress. bow.

  • tommyhilfinger

    I wish all the best for this project i don’t care what they say. This article is useless and just demonizing progression.

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