PRESS RELEASE: 6 May 2010
Though without an audience of presidential aspirants who are mostly on the campaign trail, farmers, fisher folk and indigenous peoples from Casiguran, Aurora remain hopeful their rights over lands covered by RA 10083 or the new law expanding the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport (APECO) will be upheld by the next administration.
Vicente Convicto of Piglas-Casiguran-Task Force Anti-APECO with Dumagat Ryan Francisco and Fr. Joefran Talaban personally delivered today a letter from protesting local communities to be displaced by the project at the Manila headquarters of each candidate.
“We believe that boosting agriculture by supporting the basic sectors and protecting our rights and resources can alleviate poverty and address the problem of food security,” they wrote.
They also pledged support for a national agenda promoting sustainable development with human rights and environmental protection. RA 10083, authored by Senator Edgardo Angara and Rep. Sonny Angara, and endorsed by Aurora governor Bella Castillo-Angara, is said to violate laws on local government, agrarian reform, fisheries, and indigenous peoples rights.
The group appealed to presidentiables, including survey leaders Benigno Aquino III, Joseph Estrada and Manuel Villar, to uphold ownership of the disputed lands by local and tribal communities, stop the ongoing implementation of RA 10083, and repeal the APECO laws, which were swiftly passed without public consultations among the affected communities contesting them.
Casiguran, where Aurora’s rice granary is located, relies primarily on agriculture and fishing for its thriving rural economy. A 2002 study by the International Fund for Agriculture and Development links the rising numbers of landless peasants in Asia including the Philippines and global food insecurity to the compulsory acquisition of land in special economic zones (SEZs). Finding sustainable sources of income to offset the loss of property and livelihood are also problematic in SEZs like the APECO.
“Our vote goes to the president who can uphold our rights over politics.” They expressed concern that presidential candidates overlook national interest in allowing the APECO. “RA 10083 puts the APECO beyond the powers of national government and local government units, while using taxpayers’ money for private purposes,” they added.
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