19 July 2010
Probe on P400-million infra sought
Residents of Casiguran, Aurora blamed the flooding of their irrigated land during typhoon Basyang on the ongoing construction of the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport (Apeco) and appealed to the Aquino administration for an investigation.
The Apeco office, a backpacker’s inn and an airstrip were constructed in the area after a P400-million allocation from the national government,
“These areas were not affected by stronger typhoons in the past. In light of the fact there are no substantial feasibility studies and environmental assessment on the Apeco construction, we are asking President Benigno Aquino III to review and repeal RA 10083,” Fr. Joefran Talaban, Casiguran’s parish priest who survived a shooting at the convent on June 26. He has received death threats since helping the locals protect their lands and fishing grounds, according to the police report on the incident from Camp Crame.
Farming, fishing and tribal communities are protesting their displacement due to RA 10083 or the law expanding the Apeco from 500 to 12,923 hectares authored by Senator Edgardo Angara and Rep. Sonny Angara. Aurora governor Bella Angara-Castillo pushed for the project amid contentions of affected residents that it confiscates private properties without due process while violating other national laws on local government, agrarian reform, fisheries, and indigenous peoples rights, they said.
The Prelature of Infanta backed the protest. In a recent statement by Bishop Rolando Tria Tirona, Bishop Emeritus Julio Xavier Labayen and 30 priests, they called on President Aquino and the Commission on Audit to review the law and alleged anomalous infrastructure projects in the province. They also condemned the attack on Fr. Talaban.
The firm Kanlaon is said to supervise the construction after the previous developer pulled out of the project.
At a forum on the Apeco last June in Quezon City, environmental assessment specialist James Esguerra enumerated potential impacts of the prospective infrastructure to include increased weather range and disturbance among physical disturbance of the environment, increased concrete cover, and reduced forest cover.
For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Fr. Edwin Gariguez
CBCP-NASSA ( Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines – National Secretariat for Social Action-Justice and Peace )
Tel no. 09228348248