Editorial: Respect the Aetas-A A +A
Monday, September 2, 2013
THE high-octane Clark Development Corp. President Arthur Tugade should lead the way in government's effort to respect not only the persons but rights of the Aetas in their ancestral lands.
For far too long, the Aetas have been abused in so many ways by the "unat", both from the public and private sector, that it was inevitable that something like what happened last week happened or nearly happened.
Tugade, a confessed poor boy from the slums of Manila, should know how it feels to be marginalized and, worse, how to be treated like dirt.
The minor uprising of some members of an Aeta tribe involving the use of the latter's ancestral lands should not be viewed in a cavalier manner.
It can get violent and bloody, a possibility that no less than Mabalacat Mayor Marino "Boking" Morales, or his spinmasters, claimed to have staved off through some diplomatic means.
The rights of the Aetas are protected under Philippine laws and, in general we assume, under international laws. It would be a shame or a sham if their rights are ignored or violated on the pretext of general welfare, as in the progress and expansion of the Clark Freeport Zone.
There's no excuse from the standpoint of law and humanity for giving Aetas a raw deal such as they seem to be getting.
Tugade not only has a legal but moral obligation to do so in the wake of the latest flare-up that could pose a bigger problem in the future, unless the current controversy is given the right and proper attention that it deserves.
The first step is to acknowledge the inherent rights of the Aetas over their ancestral lands and the benefits they are entitled to get from the same by virtue of ownership.
It can't get simpler or more complicated than that.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on September 03, 2013.