Thursday July 19, 2018

Aetas assert rights over ancestral land

CLARK FREEPORT - Leaders of the Aeta tribe here have warned the Clark Development Corporation (CDC) that they fully enforce the tribal customary laws and tradition.

This was gleaned in the letter of the Sangguniang Tribung Aeta (STA) regarding CADT (Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title) 025 to the CDC Board dated June 19, 2017.

The STA, which is represented by Aeta communities in Bamban town in Tarlac and Mabalacat City in Pampanga, sent the letter to the CDC Board to assert its rights over the ancestral lands at the subzone of Clark Freeport.

The said letter, signed by STA president Oscar Dizon and vice president Robert Serrano, stipulated STA resolutions which also cancels the Joint Management Agreement (JMA) forged between the CDC and the previous leadership of the Aeta tribe.

“Herein attached are copies of the resolutions enacted by the Office of the STA of CADT 025, in accordance with the pertinent provisions of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997 and its implementing rules, effectively rescinding the Joint Management Agreement for reasons stated therein,” the letter stated.

Serrano and Dizon said that CDC failed to provide the Aeta council the contracts of investors which established businesses inside the ancestral lands covering more than 10,000 hectares.

“Despite our several demands, you failed to provide us copy of the CDC contracts with existing locators within the CADT area for the Tribung Aeta to compute our share as joint venture,” the Aeta council leaders stated.

The STA also warned the CDC to stop deploying armed personnel and security guards inside the ancestral lands.

“Lastly, we shall be enforcing all our customary laws and traditions to the fullest extent of the law specifically IPRA Law. We shall immediately take over the management and control of the CADT 025 and we are enjoining the CDC to refrain from deploying any armed personnel and security guards or we shall be constrained to arrest them and pass judgment in the accordance with our native laws to whosoever violate the same,” the Aeta council warned.

2 things need clarification

But the CDC, in statement sent to SunStar Pampanga, said that there are at least two important things that need clarification on what the STA wants.

“There are two distinct items that have to be clarified: first, the registration of Indigenous People’s Organizations (IPO) that has to be confirmed by the NCIP en banc. The current situation as to who among the Aeta groups in CADT 025 inside Clark Special Economic Zone has been a huge detriment in previous and ongoing dialogues due to the absence of a clear mandate in the said Aeta community as to their respective representatives within their organizations,” the CDC said.

Following this would be the Indigenous People’s Structure (IPS), on which the newly formed STA CADT 025 is purportedly based upon. On regulations of the NCIP, CDC has yet to get a Resolution from NCIP en banc if STA is indeed the confirmed IPS, the CDC added.

“It is our understanding that the confirmed IPS would then determine a new starting point from which to continue previous dialogues and negotiations. This is particularly true for the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Joint Management Agreement (JMA),” the CDC furthered in its statement.

“As to the resolution that supposedly effectively rescinds the JMA, the CADT 025 clearly states that the JMA was executed ‘by and among Clark Development Corporation (CDC), National Commission on Indigenous people (NCIP) and Tribung Ayta…’” it said.

As binding as any other contract, no party can unilaterally abrogate an agreement, stressed the CDC.

Meantime, the CDC said it has always been open to talks, meeting with any Aeta groups that come to its offices.