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Probe of delayed Aeta relocation sought

05:30 AM May 29, 2019

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, Philippines — Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda on Monday warned that she would ask the Senate to investigate the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) after the agency failed to get a relocation site for Aeta families living in landslide-prone villages in the province.

Pineda issued the warning during an interagency meeting here to discuss the status of the planned relocation site for 300 Aeta families who could be displaced by landslides after the 6.1-magnitude earthquake on April 22.

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In the meeting, she said it was difficult to look for relocation sites in ancestral lands due to encroachments that the NCIP had reportedly allowed.

“The ancestral domains are so big but we still have to buy lands for relocation sites. You in the NCIP allowed people to have titles in the ancestral lands [after the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act was passed into law in 1997],” Pineda said.

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Noel Lacadin, chief geologist of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in Central Luzon, earlier recommended that Sitio Tagak at Barangay Nabuklod in Floridablanca town and Barangay Diaz in Porac town be considered “no habitation” zones.

Both villages are within the 10-kilometer radius of Mt. Pinatubo, which last erupted on June 15, 1991. The eruption came a year after a strong quake hit northern Luzon in July 1990.

Ronaldo Daquioag, NCIP director in Central Luzon, said properties inside ancestral domains that were titled before 1997 were segregated from certificate of ancestral domain title (CADT) areas.

Highly prone to landslides

After segregation, the Porac CADT was reduced from 18,000 hectares to 16,000 ha while the Floridablanca CADT shrank from 8,000 ha to 5,000 ha, Daquioag said.

But safe areas became minimal as hazards mapping by the MGB showed many lands to be highly prone to landslides.

Daquioag said Aetas and private landowners could file complaints if the lands were titled to individuals after 1997 or if their ownership was questioned for fraud.

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But Roy Serrano, an Aeta representative in the Floridablanca town council, said their request to verify the ownership of lands in the town’s CADT has been pending with the NCIP since August 2018.

Nabuklod Aetas have declined a plan to use a hectare in Sitio Balindalag as relocation site because the land hosts a cemetery.

In Porac, where the risk of landslides is severe, Pineda said the provincial government would buy a 3-ha lot at Sitio Pasbul in the lower hills.

A plan to build a model Aeta community has been proposed there using donations. —Tonette Orejas

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TAGS: Aeta relocation, Lilia Pineda, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, NCIP
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