Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Monday, June 06, 2005

Clark exec seeks speedy resolution of Aetas’ claims for ancestral domain


CLARK ZONE, Pampanga — Clark Development Corp. (CDC) has sought a peaceful resolution of claims over at least 10,628 hectares of contested ancestral domain of the Aetas in Pampanga and Tarlac involving portions of the reverted US military base land, now part of the Clark Special Economic subzone.

In a May 23 letter to National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Commissioner Pablo Santos, CDC president Antonio R. Ng stated that "we are, of course, in unison with NCIP in the peaceful resolution of claims, CDC recognizing at the outset that it fully respects rightful claims of ownership of lands and their (referring to the Aetas) domains under the IPRA (Indigenous Peoples Right Act), also known as the Republic Act 8371."

NCIP said claimants of the reverted base lands are Aetas from Bamban in Tarlac and Mabalacat in Pampanga.

The Clark subzone was created by RA 7227.

Ng said to resolve the rightful claims of indigenous people whose number has grown to almost 3,000 to the ancestral domain, which is also part of the economic zone under the RA 7227 or the Bases Conversion Act, a decision of the CDC and NCIP under the auspices of the Department of Land Reform (DLR), which is to conduct a ground revalidation of the controversial land, should be respected.

The original claims of the Aetas involved 5,515 hectares in the Sacobia sub-zone, but these have increased to 10,628 hectares by claiming also part of the Clark special economic main zone.

"This is the most judicious manner to revalidate the area and rightful claimants-beneficiaries of the lands covered by CSEZ because these are lands covered by RA 7227," Ng stated in his letter.

He said that "a revalidation will also determine the rightful claimants and the beneficiaries, thus ensuring that their rights will be respected and the law properly upheld."

In the April 28 letter of Santos to Ng, the NCIP commissioner stated that "the agreed revalidation of the CADT (certificate of ancestral domain title) created a cloud of doubts, putting at stake the integrity of the NCIP and depriving the Aetas of Bamban and Mabalacat the rightful ownership of their ancestral domains."

He said that "for CDC, it affects the implementation of its projects and hinders the flow of investments, greatly affecting the promotion of economic development in Central Luzon."

Santos’ letter also stated that he would like the issue resolve "through a simple accord between the NCIP and CDC."

"In order to avoid the expense of revalidating the entire ancestral domains, I am proposing that CDC make a determination of the portion of the ancestral domains actually intended for use by CDC," the letter also stated.

NCIP is the principal government agency that promotes the welfare of the indigenous people.

Ng said, however, that "with respect to the accord covering use of the lands at issue, let me Reiterate that we agree to enter into any workable sharing of benefits that will be fair and reasonable to all concerned."


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