Tarlac court junks Aetas’ civil suit vs Clark Development Corp.
MABALACAT CITY, Pampanga – A court in Tarlac City has dismissed the civil case filed by the Bamban Aeta Association, Inc. (BATA), seeking to collect the indigenous people’s 20-percent share from their joint venture agreement with the Clark Development Corp. (CDC).
In a statement on Tuesday (Aug. 16), the CDC said Tarlac City Regional Trial Court Branch 109 Judge Jeovannie Ordoño dismissed the case on July 22 after determining that BATA president Oscar Rivera, who was representing the “Tribong Aeta” in the civil case, lacked the personality to represent the indigenous group.
“BATA and Rivera’s lack of personality to institute the instant complaint for collection of sum of money for and on behalf of the Tribong Aeta is by itself, a ground for its dismissal,” the CDC quoted the judge as stating in his decision.
The judge added: “Under our procedural rules, a case is dismissible for lack of personality to sue upon proof that the plaintiff is not the real party-in-interest, hence grounded on failure to state a cause of action.”
The state-owned firm said the court had ruled under the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples’ (NCIP) en banc resolution no. 07-127, series of 2018, “it was clear that the Sangguniang Tribong Aeta (STA) is the sole and recognized representative in dealing with the management of the ancestral domain pursuant to the JMA between the Aeta Indigenous Peoples/Indigenous Cultural Communities of Bamban, Tarlac, and Mabalacat, Pampanga, CDC, NCIP, and not BATA.”
It said the court had stated further that Rivera was not entitled to bring the claim on behalf of BATA since he is not an officer of the organization and is not authorized to represent the Tribong Aeta.
The CDC said the distribution of 20-percent shares of indigenous groups from JMA is currently on hold and in a separate account.
“These funds are only to be disbursed based on the NCIP’s guidance and resolution and shall be provided to the designated and legitimate Aeta group duly authorized to receive the funds,” it added.
The Aetas on the Pampanga and Tarlac sides of the Clark Freeport Zone and Clark Special Economic Zone claim more than 10,000 hectares of land as their ancestral domain, as evidenced by the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title 025. INQ
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