Apeco critics have more fun tweaking slogan
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Swiss, Dutch and Filipinos are in the team and they are visiting Aurora not as tourists but as friends supporting this message: “It’s more fun in Aurora without Apeco (Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority).”
This twist to the Department of Tourism’s new marketing slogan, “It’s more fun in the Philippines,” has been coined by the Church’s Prelature of Infanta, said Fr. Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of the National Secretariat for Social Action (Nassa) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
The prelature, which serves Quezon and Aurora provinces, tweaked the DOT slogan for the international solidarity mission it has organized to support residents who are in danger of being displaced by Apeco.
Sen. Edgardo Angara and his son, Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, sponsored the laws creating the Aurora Special Economic Zone Authority (Aseza), which evolved into Apeco.
The Angaras had said the 12,000-hectare agricultural, manufacturing and industrial complex in front of the Pacific Ocean would bail Aurora out of poverty.
Ramon Fernando, Apeco deputy administrator, said Congress had looked at various issues confronting the economic zone last year and found no violation so far.
Team members would visit communities around Apeco in Casiguran town on Feb. 16, Gariguez said.
The mission is helping press for the repeal of Republic Act No. 10083, the law that created Apeco, he said.
A Nassa briefer said the law expanded the economic zone from 500 ha to 12,427 ha in the villages of Dibet, Esteves, San Ildefonso, Cozo and Culat.
These parcels of land, they said, include those given by the national government through the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program and reservations whose ownership is being claimed by the indigenous Dumagat.
On grounds of provisions that conflict with the 1987 Constitution and other laws, farmers, fishermen and Dumagat representatives asked the Supreme Court to declare as unconstitutional the Aseza and Apeco laws.
Gariguez said among the delegates to the mission are Bishop Felix Gmür from Switzerland; Bishop Rolando Tirona of the Prelature of Infanta; Fr. Ben Verberne of the Dutch Conference of Religious; Helena Jeppesen of the Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund; Floor Schuiling of Mensen met een Missie-The Netherlands; Fr. Pete Montallana and Bro. Martin Francisco of the Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance Inc.; Mark Cebreros of the Commission on Human Rights; and Commissioner Conchita Calzado of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.
Other groups joining the mission are the Integrated Pastoral Development Initiative, Freedom from Debt Coalition, Focus on the Global South (Focus), Pakisama/Task Force Anti-Apeco, Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, Tribal Center for Development, Swiss TV and Radio Veritas.
The campaign, Gariguez said, includes persuading Apeco’s funders and potential investors to withdraw their commitments and investments. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon
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