Aurora folk fail to get TRO vs Apeco
MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court did not issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) Tuesday as sought by farmers, fishermen and the Agta tribe of Casiguran, Aurora, against the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone (Apeco) project.
Court spokesman Theodore Te said the high tribunal did not act on the plea of the Pinag-isang Lakas ng mga Samahan ng Casiguran, Aurora (Piglasca) for a TRO against the over 12,000-hectare project that aims to create the country’s first economic free zone on the Pacific.
Te said the court instead ordered Apeco, the Senate and the House of Representatives, which were named respondents in the petition, to comment on the issues raised by Piglasca.
The court also ordered Piglasca’s petition consolidated with the one filed by a group led by Rafael Mariano against Apeco in October last year, which is pending in the high tribunal.
Piglasca has asked the court to block the implementation of Republic Act No. 9490, as amended by RA 10083, as this created a “superbody out of Apeco with the powers of the executive and legislative branches of government.”
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabilio, of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines National Secretariat for Social Action, had earlier said the protesters were hoping the Supreme Court would be fair, considering that nothing came of the dialogue between President Aquino and the Aurora residents last December after the latter marched 350 kilometers in 18 days from their homes to Manila to dramatize their opposition to the project.
The President at the time ordered a review of the Apeco project but rejected calls to cut funding and scrap it altogether.
Mr. Aquino sided with then Sen. Edgardo Angara, expressing the belief the project would benefit Central Luzon.
Pabillo said he had asked the President not to allocate funds for the Apeco project in the 2014 national budget, which is up for discussion in Congress.
He also asked the President to consider helping majority of the people and “not just one family and foreigners.”
In their 70-page petition, the Aurora residents said the laws were passed without a consultation with the stakeholders.
The laws also violate the social justice and local autonomy provisions of the Constitution, among other things, they said.