Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Friday, June 08, 2007

Aetas resist plan to build golf course on their land

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—At least 69 out of 92 Aeta in Pastolan on the Hermosa, Bataan side of this freeport have opposed the plan of South Korean shipbuilding firm Hanjin to construct a golf course within their 4,335-hectare ancestral domain here.

“We, holders of Certificate Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) No. R03-HER-0703 … are strongly opposing the golf course plan of Hanjin,” the Pastolan Tribe Village Livelihood Association Inc. (PTVLAI) said in a letter to Armand Arreza, administrator of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

One of their leaders, Bonifacio Florentino, told the Inquirer that all their efforts to claim title to the domain, install a water system, organize themselves and improve the area through the assistance of the World Bank would “all go to naught.”


Anthropologist Rufino Tima, former SBMA consultant for tribal concerns, confirmed the assistance of the World Bank to the Pastolan Aeta.

The Aeta got the CADT in 2002 after lobbying for it for four years since 1998, Florentino said.

According to him, Hanjin intends to develop a 500-hectare golf course that would encroach on 300 hectares within the domain’s Barangay Mabiga portions.

These are near the watershed area, he said.


“We don’t want a golf course. That is not a sustainable project. Having a land and farming it have long-term benefits. The next generation would not have land anymore,” he said.

The association presented an integrated development program that listed mainly farm-based livelihood projects and eco-tourism plans.

Florentino also said one golf course within the domain, located at Binictican, was enough. This, he said, had already polluted the rivers within the domain.

He accused Hanjin of dividing the tribe by dealing with another group of Aeta led by a non-Aeta village chief. “When the Americans were here, they did not bother us,” Florentino recalled.

Interviewed by phone, Arreza confirmed Hanjin’s plan to build the golf course at the base of the Mt. Sta. Rita station.

He described the area as “largely grasslands, some timberland without a watershed.”

Florentino said the Aeta have planted vegetable crops and tree seedlings in the disputed area.

According to Arreza, the World Bank helped in obtaining the CADT, not in protecting the watershed.

No approval

Hanjin, he said, has consulted with the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples and with a 10-person committee that the Aeta have organized to address their concerns related to the golf course project.

Arreza said the SBMA has not yet approved the golf course project. Consultations, he added, are ongoing.

The Aeta, he went on, should settle the conflict among themselves.

A Hanjin document showed that the South Korean company has proposed to put 10 percent of the 50-year lease payment to a community development fund, which will be used for livelihood, health, infrastructure, education and other priority projects of a tribal council to be created for the purpose of the project.

Hanjin assured it would conduct an environmental impact study, involve the Aeta in the multi-partite monitoring team, provide them training and hire those who are qualified to work in the project.
By Tonette Orejas - Inquirer

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