Bishops cancel service for Aetas

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Friday, August 22, 2014


PORAC -- Manila Auxiliary Bishop Roderick Pabillo and Archbishop Emeritus Paciano Aniceto were advised by the Social Action Center of Pampanga (Sacop) on Thursday to cancel regular Eucharistic services for Aeta communities in Hacienda Dolores and Sapang Uwak as "their safety is not assured."

A Sun.Star Pampanga source said that Sacop wrote the local government of Porac headed by Mayor Condralito Dela Cruz to facilitate the entry of the bishops through the area, which is now subject of a land dispute between locals and two holding firms.

The source said the request was met with a response allegedly saying that the safety of the bishops “is not assured if they proceed.”

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The bishops would have to pass through an area allegedly claimed by a holding firm just to gain access to Aeta communities that the Roman Catholic Church has been serving for decades even before the land dispute.

Pabillo, who chairs the Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, said that Sacop had to cancel the scheduled activity because of the issue.

On Friday, the prelate expressed his worry over the current situation in Hacienda Dolores, stressing the state of affairs in the area deprives the Aeta communities of their spiritual needs.

Pabillo also called the attention of the local government of Porac to get its act together on the issue.

He said while access to the Aeta villages in Porac is restricted, Catholic communities in the area will be deprived of their spiritual needs.

It can be recalled that farmers from Barangay Hacienda Dolores are protesting the 700-hectare contested land allegedly owned by the corporations inside the village.

The unrest started when the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) issued an order exempting the LLL and FL landholdings from the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp) coverage in 2005.

However, the huge agricultural land in Hacienda Dolores was exempted by the DAR regional office after LLL Holdings Incorporated (LLHI) and FL Land Holdings (FLLH) showed titles of the land.

LLHI claimed about 298 hectares of the land, while FLLH claimed the other 456 hectares.

Aside from the land titles, landowners also said 80 percent of the land was not yet developed due to its 18-degree slope measure, which they said, according to the law, is automatically exempted from the Carp.

The said parties have now pending cases in court.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on August 23, 2014.

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