“Farmers who have been tilling the lands for decades and who are already vested with rights to own the land they till under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program are endangered of losing these lands and be dislocated because of APECO. The Agta-Dumagats who for years now have been pushing for their recognition of their ancestral domain under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act or IPRA are facing uncertainties over the lands and sees that have been their homes since time immemorial. Fisherfolks who have been vested with exclusive rights over the municipal waters of Casiguran Aurora are now threatened not only to lose access to the sea that provide them with livelihood but also their homes as they are to be relocated. These are not unfounded fears and apprehensions. The threat of losing the land, the sea, and ancestral domain is very real for the people affected by the establishment of the ecozone. ”

The Transcript of  Jan. 19, 2011 APECO Senate Hearing (COMMITTEE ON AGRARIAN REFORM joint with COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL CULTURAL COMMUNITIES) is now posted!

Click the link below to view and/or download the script:

Comm. On A.R Joint w CNCC

World Food Day: Feeding the future.


“There are 94 million Filipinos today.  The population will grow by 2 million each year from here on. Meanwhile, the domestic food chain – from farm to the dining table – is under great pressure. The chain has become weak, corroded by years of neglect and corruption. Unless repaired now, it will soon reach the breaking point.”

“More than ever, the Philippines is vulnerable to price volatility. To overcome the challenges, we must address the issues of equity, sustainable production and resilience.”

“Policies and programs that promote sustainable livelihoods and climate-resilient communities should be prioritized and pursued. Congress should pass a law on land and water use that protects the nation’s food sources – farms and fishing grounds. [There are already such laws – The Fisheries Code, CARPER, IPRA. The problem is the implementation.] Land must not be converted into other uses, especially in areas that are critical for food production.

Existing legislation should be reviewed to secure the needs of women smallholders, as well as the demands of sustainable farming and fishing. Government agencies and their respective mandates need to be rationalized and aligned for the purpose of achieving food self-sufficiency.”


CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Residents opposing the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport (Apeco) in Casiguran, Aurora, on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional the laws that created the zone.

Among those seeking to void Republic Act Nos. 10083 and 9490 were leaders of farmers’, fishermen’s and militant groups. Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano is also a petitioner.

Named respondents were Apeco president Roberto Mathay, Aurora Gov. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo, Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, Dilasag Mayor Victorio Briones, Apeco workers representative Harley Rose Alcantara Daquioag, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

Sen. Edgardo Angara is “not part of Apeco, although as part of the Senate who authored the bill, he would be obliged to reply once asked by the Supreme Court,” said lawyer Rachel Pastores, who represented the petitioners.

Another group of Aurora residents on Tuesday protested the P332.5-million budget for Apeco next year, said Fr. Joefran Talaban, parish priest of Casiguran.

Sought for comment, Representative Angara, in a text message, said: “[It is] difficult to comment without having seen [the] petition or [its] grounds yet.”

The petitioners asked the high court to issue a temporary restraining order against the operations of Apeco, said Gerry Albert Corpuz, Pamalakaya information officer.

RA 10083 and 9490, the petitioners said, violated provisions on agrarian reform and social justice. The 12,000-hectare Apeco-occupied lands were previously awarded by government to agrarian reform beneficiaries, the petition said. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon

from: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/75123/groups-ask-supreme-court-void-laws-on-apeco

Everyone’s invited to witness the APECO Senate Hearing on September 22nd, Thursday, 10 AM at the Senate of the Philippines, GSIS Headquarters Building, Financial Center, Roxas Blvd., Pasay City.

Fight for the farmers, fisherfolk, and Indigenous Peoples in Casiguran, Aurora!

See you!


CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has sent a team to Aurora to investigate the alleged burning of houses owned by members of the Agta tribe in Dinalungan town.

The investigation came after the killing of an Agta chieftain on May 17 over his defense of his tribe’s ancestral domain.

Lawyer Jasmin Regino, CHR director in Central Luzon, said the team left on Monday after holding a case conference last week with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

Team members would validate reports of complainants who are members of the Agta tribe. The team is expected to return on Sunday, said Regino.

Salung Sunggod, NCIP regional director, said his team went to Aurora on Tuesday to conduct a separate investigation.

Agta leaders reported the burning of 10 houses two days day after their chieftain, Armando Maximino, was denied burial in an ancestral plot within a 49-hectare reservation being claimed by the Guerrero family in Barangay Nipoo. At least 33 hectares in the reservation had been fenced by the family.

Regino said the tribe also filed a petition asking the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to cancel the land title issued by a DENR official in Aurora to the Guerreros.

The DENR began its investigation of the land dispute in early May and is scheduled to announce its findings this month.

Displaced, the 25 families from five clans under Maximino’s watch took spots near the coast in front of the Pacific Ocean, making makeshift dwellings there.

Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat Jr. has asked the CHR to investigate the killings of tribal chieftains who are at the forefront of campaigns defending ancestral domains.

Complaints of human rights abuses surfaced following protests against the construction of an economic zone in Aurora that is being pushed by the Angara political clan led by Sen. Edgardo Angara. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon

from: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/11575/chr-probes-burning-of-aurora-tribe-homes

By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
First Posted 16:47:00 01/21/2011

MANILA, Philippines – Two lawmakers have come to the aid of indigenous peoples and residents in Aurora province being threatened of displacement from their lands because of development projects in the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone Freeport (APECO).

Representatives Arlene “Kaka” Bag-ao and Walden Bello have filed House Resolution 417 calling on the committee on agrarian reform and the committee on national cultural communities to look into the plights of the people there imperiled by development. 

But Aurora Representative Juan Edgardo Angara appealed to the residents to give development a chance.

“As representative, I believe these issues can be resolved amicably,” Angara said in a text message when asked to react. “I do wish they would give it a chance and some time to show what can be done for residents there.”

Angara and his father, Senator Edgardo Angara co-sponsored Republic Act No. 10083, the law that created APECO. The younger Angara and her aunt, Aurora Governor Bellaflor Angara-Castillo, sit on the economic zone’s Board.

APECO covers more than 12,400 hectares of public and private land, including sprawling areas devoted for agriculture and tracts of ancestral lands belonging to the Agta-Dumagats, the indigenous peoples of Casiguran town. Continue Reading »

(Article published in the Feb 2,2011 issue of Manila Standard Today)

The matter of the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone Authority (APEZA) goes beyond the narrow interests of Quezon’s politicians. It involves the wider questions of whether, as a people, we Filipinos have not only the external decency to comport ourselves with civility when dealing with others but also, and more importantly, the internal morality to truly respect the innate dignity of our fellow human beings when dealing with one another.  Specifically, the questions before us is “ought the Angara suzerainty in Aurora be permitted, without protest from the rest of us, to stifle in the process of their pushing for the APEZA, the human rights of their fellow Filipinos, or, in fact, their fellow human beings, the dumagats in the area?” Continue Reading »