Dispute over Clark Aeta lands settled-A A +A
Sunday, September 1, 2013
CLARK FREEPORT -- Officials of Clark Development Corporation (CDC), Mabalacat City Government, and Mabalacat Aeta Tribal Association (Mata) agreed to settle the issue involving the use of ancestral lands by a golf course and water park developer inside this Freeport.
During a meeting initiated by Mabalacat City Mayor Marino Morales and CDC president Arturo Tugade with leaders of tribal communities at the Clark Freeport subzone last Friday, Tugade asked the cooperation of the Aetas, who said they are being harassed and prevented from passing and visiting their territory near the Clark Gate 14 at Sitio Haduan.
Ruvielane Margarito, tribal chieftain of Sitio Bilad, said they erected a makeshift center near the Gate 14 to monitor the ongoing development of a water park by Taiwanese firm BB International (BBI).
“Itinayo po namin 'yun hindi para sa kaguluhan kundi para maproteksyonan ang aming karapatan at bantayan at mapanatili ang katahimikan at kaayusan sa aming lupaing ninuno,” Margarito said.
Margarito said that CDC failed to implement programs guaranteed under an agreement forged between the state-owned corporation and the tribesmen in 2007.
Some of the programs include the livelihood for Aetas, and construction of facilities like church, basketball court, health center and others at the relocation site at Sitio Bilad.
Within six years, BBI failed to develop less than 10 hectares of ancestral lands, which are covered by the P2.5-billion project. Tugade vowed to implement the projects that CDC failed to implement under the agreement.
He, however, said that he was informed that the corporation compensated the Aetas, who were properly resettled and the facilities and buildings were paid prior to the relocation of families affected by the project.
“Kung may kakulangan, madali po nating ayusin 'yan,” he said.
Tugade said the Aeta leaders should sit down with CDC officials to reconcile facts and settle the issues.
“Pagtugmain natin ang datos kasi po ako ay nasabihan na 'yung chapel, basketball court ay nabayaran,” Tugade told the Aetas.
He also appealed to the Mata officials not to delay the ongoing project.
The BBI has vowed to implement the project with a time table, he added.
“Pag hindi po tumupad [sa timetable] ang BBI ay ako na mismo ang magte-terminate ng kontrata,” Tugade said.
A ground-breaking ceremony is scheduled on September 29, Tugade added.
Morales thanked Tugade for his effort to address the problem of his constituents.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on September 02, 2013.