[Statement] We stand with the people of Casiguran in their struggle against APECO! -ISM

Unity Statement of International Delegates

WE, the delegates of the International Solidarity Mission to the Prelature of Infanta, stand with the people of Casiguran who are struggling against the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (APECO). The cries of the farmers, fisherfolk, and indigenous peoples to whom we have listened still echo in our ears. Their distress over the displacements, divisions and other dangers that APECO has already ushered into Casiguran are for us a clarion call for the immediate abolition of the ecozone.

What we have witnessed convinces us that APECO has scorned the basic rights of communities throughout Casiguran. Repeatedly, we have heard that APECO has not conducted any consultations with any affected peoples before and during the Freeport’s construction. Repeatedly, we have been told of how the ecozone has been hounded with episodes of harassment, violence and misinformation since it was lapsed into law.

We have seen that APECO has sought to reduce the people of Casiguran to complete powerlessness, and that it has stripped those impacted of any voice and democratic control over the ecozone. It has instigated a process that will violently eject them from the lands, livelihoods and communal ties that they have carefully cultivated over the generations, while consigning the integrity of the municipality’s natural environment to total and utter jeopardy.

But if these injustices have troubled us, we have been even more deeply moved by the passion and the determination that has animated the movement in Casiguran against the ecozone. In no way have these communities passively taken the blows dealt to them by the ecozone; with their struggle, the poor and the excluded of Casiguran have come to reclaim the voice, the recognition and the dignity that APECO, up to the now, has effectively denied them.

WE, who are one with those struggling against APECO, have come to show solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Casiguran as they fight for a more secure and more equitable future. We have come believing that it is with such solidarities that a truly just and humane order may be finally achieved for the poor and the marginalized around the world— yet in the end, we have found ourselves receiving so much more from the people of Casiguran than anything we had expected.

We have seen the work of sharing and solidarity that is already rooted into the very lives of the farmers, fisherfolk and indigenous peoples whom we have met and listened to.

We have seen the vision of a Church that dwells for and with the poor concretely realized in the efforts of the Prelature of Infanta.

We have seen that the fire animating the struggle against APECO is the same fire of the living gospel that liberates.

The struggle for the future of Casiguran continues and we urge all upstanding and discerning Christians, regardless of origin, to support the campaign of the anti-APECO struggle and the Prelature of Infanta to repeal the APECO law (Republic Act 10083), to immediately halt all operations of the ecozone, and seek justice for all those in Casiguran whose rights have already been abused, trampled upon and violated.

It is our challenge to be infused with the same fire that now spurs forward the anti-APECO struggle. So long as that fire remains alive, there too remains hope for Casiguran, for Aurora, for the Philippines.

We stand with the people of Casiguran in their struggle against APECO. We stand with them, believing that a more just, equitable future is possible.

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