20 July 2010
Manila auxiliary bishop Broderick Pabillio joined the call of the Aurora clergy to the Aquino administration to suspend the operation and budget of the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport (Apeco) in the province.
“We trust in the sincerity of this government to effect promised changes and we hope it starts with upholding the wellbeing of the poor and marginalized over the designs of the corrupt and powerful politicians behind questionable legislations,” Pabillio said in a statement on July 18.
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 Church is supporting residents who were not consulted on the ecozone but would be made to pay for its establishment through taxes “without discernible benefit,” according to Pabillo.
“The railroading of the law in both the Senate and the House, in the absence of committee hearings, manifests political expediency,” he said, which affirms the perception that “the legislature can conveniently pass laws that serve their interests.”
Bishop Rolando Tria Tirona, Bishop Emeritus Julio Xavier Labayen and 30 priests also appealed to the Aquino administration and the Commission on Audit to review RA 10083 and alleged anomalous infrastructure projects in their statement on July 12.
The clergy also condemned the June 26 attack on Casiguran parish priest Joefran Talaban, a known advocate of the residents’ rights to their lands and fishing grounds.
Pabillo added that the project is against “principles of social justice and democracy.”
“The administration of Apeco are granted legal powers to sequester private lands even those already committed for agrarian reform without needing to undergo a legislative procedure,” he said, condemning “the gross violation” by the House and Senate in passing the law.
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