Clark farmers stop fencing wakeboard facility site

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014


CLARK FREEPORT -- A group of farmers recently stopped the fencing of a 20-hectare property, where a proposed wake boarding facility will be built inside the Clark sub-zone, saying the government should compensate the cost of their crops before proceeding with the project.

The group, consisting of some 11 farmers from Barangay Calumpang in Mabalacat City, sought the intercession of their City Council, which invited the officials of the Clark Development Corporation (CDC) in a committee hearing on Tuesday.

During the session, Calumpang Chairman Jimmy Jimenez said the CDC started the fencing without consulting the farmers and village officials.

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Jimenez criticized the deployment of military personnel in the area to man the erection of fence.

“Paka-armalite ampong M-203 la pamo. [Balamu maki-guera la kareng farmers]. Oneng pengwa mi la lagyu at sinabi ming dimanda mi la anya memaglako la (They were armed with armalite rifles and M-203 as if they were going to war with the farmers. We got their names and threatened to sue them so they left),” he said.

A notice of eviction was sent to the farmers prior to the construction.

The wake board facility is an undertaking of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza).

Jimenez cited another issue which is the low valuation of crops by the CDC.

“Bayaran na mung P5,000 per hectare of sugarcane. Samantalang ing Department of Agriculture (DA) ing valuation na keng sugarcane tsa-P30,000 per hectare (Their valuation is just P5,000 per hectare of sugarcane while the DA’s valuation is P30,000 per hectare,” Jimenez said.

Vice Mayor Christian Halili asked CDC officials, headed by Environment Officer Red Fuentes, who attended the hearing, to conduct regular consultation with the farmers and residents in the area to prevent misunderstandings and conflict.

Fuentes clarified that the CDC is open to negotiations with the farmers. The Tieza asked for the fencing and security of the property where the tourism facility will be built, according to him.

Halili even defended the farmers saying they are not “anti-progress” but merely fighting for their rights.

The official said the city council will support and protect the farmers if their rights are violated.

“Tulungan din po ninyo ang aming mga kababayan para pag naitayo ang tourism estate ay kami po mismo ang mag-promote nung wakeboarding facility,” Halili said.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on May 28, 2014.

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