Tag Archives: Aurora

[Resources] Aurora, the Philippines: land deals and development at a price – video -www.theguardian.com

Aurora, the Philippines: land deals and development at a price – video

the GUARDIAN video on APECO

Aurora’s governor says the development of a Pacific eco zone will bring benefits to this poor region of the Philippines. But locals wonder how long construction jobs will last, and what impact the development of a port, tourist haven and trading hub will have on livelihoods and the environment. ‘We are fighting for our seas and ancestral lands,’ says one fisherman

Watch video @www.theguardian.com

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[Featured Video] APECO: Progress for Whom? by Ditsi Carolino


APECO progress for whom

Simbahang Lingkod Ng Bayan
APECO: Progress for Whom?
An updated documentary by Ditsi Carolino on the fight of the farmers, fisherfolks and Indigenous People of Casiguran in their struggle against APECO!

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=600173876661802

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[Press Release] 125 Casiguran farmers, fisherfolk IP’s begin 370-km protest march against Aurora Ecozone

125 Casiguran farmers, fisherfolk IP’s begin 370-km protest march against Aurora Ecozone

CASIGURAN, AURORA— “Lupaing Ninuno, Sakahan, Pangisdaan— Ibalik, Ibalik! 12,923 ektarya ng APECO— Ibalik, Ibalik!”

These are the fighting words of 125 farmers, fisherfolk and indigenous peoples who, at 8:00 a.m. today, began marching towards Manila after a massive send-off mass at the heart of Casiguran town in Aurora.

Showered by support from hundreds upon hundreds of Casiguran’s residents, the marchers will be journeying a grueling 370-kilometers through treacherous mountains, rural flatlands and peri-urban landscapes, in order to voice opposition to the Aurora Pacific Ecozone (APECO) long expressed by the communities of Casiguran.

“Nothing will stop us from reaching Manila and delivering our concerns about APECO to President Aquino— be it floods, the heat of the sun or even landslides in the Sierra Madre Mountains,” said Marlon Angara, a local fisherfolk leader, in Filipino. “We, the farmers, fisherfolk and IP’s of Casiguran have had enough of APECO’s endless dangers to our future.”

Dubbed “Lakad Katarungan, Lakad Matuwid na Daan”, the Casiguran long walk represents the latest stage in the five-year struggle of more than 3000 families (13,600 people) whose lands and livelihoods have been endangered by the creation of the Aurora ecozone. Since 2010, their anti-APECO movement has engaged time and again with policymakers in the House of Representatives, the Senate, and Executive Departments like the Department of Agrarian Reform— yet to no avail in stopping APECO’s operations until the present time

The Casiguran multisectoral march— which has been backed by national organizations such as CBCP-NASSA, the PAKISAMA peasant federation, the Association of Major Religious Superiors, the Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance, Sulong CARPER, AR Now!, and other member groups of Task Force Anti-APECO (TFAA)— is planned to run from November 24 until December 14. With the support of local churches, the 125-marchers will be trooping from Casiguran to Baler, Cabanatuan, Malolos, Caloocan, Quezon City, and Manila.

“For five years already, the lands and livelihoods of Casiguran’s poor have been put in peril by the Aurora ecozone,” said Father Joefran Talaban, Task Force Anti-APECO spokesperson. “Instead of rewarding APECO with continued access to public money, our national government must instead hold it accountable for the legal violations that have consistently hounded its activities.”

APECO is the 12,923-hectare megaproject sponsored by the family of Senator Edgardo Angara, Congressman Juan Edgardo Angara and Governor Bellaflor Angara-Castillo. Though often promised to usher in a new era of economic progress in Aurora, the ecozone has since been accused by those like Talaban of transgressing a whole chain of laws, such as the Local Government Code, the Indigenous Peoples Rights’ Act, the CARPER law, and the Fisheries Code.

“Dozens of fisherfolk families have been displaced by the creation of APECO’s airport without any kind of relocation, and numerous farmers have been deceived by APECO’s land buyers,” Talaban maintained. “APECO was established over the ancestral domains of the Casiguran IP’s without their free, prior and informed consent, and various incidents of environmental degradation such as illegal logging, mangrove clearing and river quarrying have also taken place.”

“I may also be an Angara,” asserted Marlon Angara in Filipino. “But it is very clear to me that if APECO is fully constructed, there will be only worsening insecurity for us farmers, fisherfolk and IP’s.

“We urge President Aquino to ensure that the lands, waters and forests now being taken from us by APECO will be returned to our communities,” he added. “We are walking for stop APECO’s seizing of lands, but we are also walking to show President Aquino that we are one with him in his commitment to ensuring good governance and social justice. We will have none of these, so long as APECO continues to operate in Casiguran.”

For communications please contact:
Jerik Cruz
Task Force Anti-APECO Communications Coordinator
Cellphone: 09267284058
Email: mailto:aer@aer.ph

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[Event] Lakad Katarungan, Lakad Matuwid na Daan Call for 21-Day Multisectoral March against Aurora Ecozone Sounded

Lakad Katarungan, Lakad Matuwid na Daan
Call for 21-Day Multisectoral March against Aurora Ecozone Sounded
Task Force Anti-APECO

They called it home; they made it flourish— and more than a hundred of them will troop to the nation’s capital rather than give it up.

On the day right before the likely bicameral approval of the P353.5 million budget of the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone (APECO) for 2013, various groups have bared plans for escalating the battle of Casiguran residents for their lands against the scandal-ridden, 12,923-hectare megaproject sponsored by the family of Senator Edgardo Angara, Congressman Juan Edgardo Angara and Governor Bellaflor Angara-Castillo.

APECO’s proponents have long alleged that the construction of the 12,923-hectare ecozone in the town of Casiguran will usher in a new era of economic and industrial progress for the province of Aurora.

In a press conference last November 21, 2012, at the CBCP’s National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-NASSA) office, representatives of more than 3000 families, whose lands and livelihoods have been threatened by APECO, sounded their intent to march an arduous 370-kilometers from Casiguran, Aurora to Malacañang Palace. The objective of the march: to exhort President Aquino to impose a moratorium and independent investigation on the operations of APECO, while fast-tracking the execution of asset reform programs in Casiguran.

Dubbed “Lakad Katarungan, Lakad Matuwid na Daan”, the Casiguran long walk will cross through treacherous mountainous areas, rainforest and coastal zones, rural flatlands and peri-urban landscapes, all while highlighting the condemnations of the Aurora ecozone long voiced by the local communities of Casiguran.

The march— which has been backed by organizations such as CBCP-NASSA, the PAKISAMA peasant federation, the Association of Major Religious Superiors, the Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance, Sulong CARPER, AR Now!, and other member groups of Task Force Anti-APECO (TFAA)— is planned to run from November 24 until December 14.

Up to 140 of Casiguran’s farmers, small fishers and Agtas will be participating.
“For five years already, the lands and livelihoods of Casiguran’s poor have been endangered by the Aurora ecozone,” said Father Joefran Talaban, Task Force Anti-APECO spokesperson. “Dozens of fisherfolk families have been displaced by the creation of APECO’s airport without any kind of relocation, and numerous farmers have been harassed and deceived by APECO’s land buyers. Agtas’ rightful claims to their ancestral domains have been consistently disrespected by the Freeport authority, and various incidents of environmental degradation such as illegal logging, mangrove clearing and river quarrying have taken place.”

“The name ‘Casiguran’ comes from ‘Kasiguruhan’, which means security,” Talaban asserted. “But it is alarmingly clear to us that if APECO is fully constructed, there will be only worsening insecurity for farmers, fisherfolk and IP’s. Whatever APECO has claimed, there has been absolutely no kind of decent employment that has been guaranteed for all these sectors, once they have been stripped of their lands and basic resources.”

According to the marchers’ representatives as well as the national support organizations, the laws that have actually been violated by APECO have been legion— not least because of the massive land displacements that it has threatened to orchestrate. Since 2007, the Aurora ecozone has arguably transgressed the Local Government Code, the Fisheries Code, the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with Extension and Reforms Law, and the Government Auditing Code. Disturbingly, the ecozone authority has yet to be held accountable for these lapses.

“APECO has been a waste of public funds, a danger to the livelihoods of Casiguran’s poor, and a disgrace to the good governance thrust of the present administration,” declared Talaban. “If President Aquino truly wishes to see the genuine upliftment of Aurora’s people and the pursuit of his ‘daang matuwid’, his task today is crystal clear: he must bring suspend the activities of APECO, while protecting the lands and resources of the farmers, fisherfolk and IP’s of Casiguran.”

For communications please contact:
Jerik Cruz
Task Force Anti-APECO Communications Coordinator
Cellphone: 09267284058
Email: jerik.cruz@gmail.com

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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[Statement] Mga Martir ng Kalikasan at Katarungan -Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance

Pahayag ng Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance
Sa Pagpaslang kina William Geertman at Romualdo Palispis

“Mga Martir ng Kalikasan at Katarungan”

Iniwan ni William Geertman ang kanyang bansang Netherlands apatnapu’t anim (46) na taon ang nakararaan upang maging lakyong misyonaryo (lay missionary) dito sa Pilipinas. Naglingkod siya sa Aurora para sa Kalikasan, mga katutubo, magsasaka at mangingisda. Hindi niya inatrasan ang maigting na pagtutol sa iligal na batas ng Proyektong APECO ng mga Angara, na umaagaw sa labindalawang libong (12,000) hektarya ng lupa ng mga katutubo sa Casiguran, Aurora. Ika-3 ng Hulyo, 2012, si William ay pinatay.

Naunang pinatay din si Romualdo “Waldo” Palispis noong Hunyo 30, 2012. Ilang araw bago nito – ika-20 ng Hunyo, 2012 si Waldo ay isa sa mga nanguna sa pagtanggap ng KRUS ng Sierra Madre sa bayan ng Maria Aurora, Auroa. Iginiit ng mga taga-Maria Aurora na masisira ang kalikasan sa paghati ng Maria Aurora para mabuo lamang ang bagong bayan na Dr. Juan Angara. Sa pagkasira ng mga bundok sa Sierra Madre, matutuyo naman ang mga palayan ng mga magsasaka.
Kinikilalala namin ang kadakilaan nina William at Waldo. Ang kanilang pagkamatay ay inspirasyon namin tungo sa pagpapatuloy na pasagip sa Sierra Madre at sa paghahari ng katarungan para sa mga maliliit.

Kami ay nananawagan sa Presidente NoyNoy Aquino na linisin ang DENR para maging totoong kaagapay namin sa pagtatanggol ng Kalikasan na siyang sasalo sa kahirapan ng nakararaming Pilipino. Napakahalaga ng Kalikasan lalo na para sa susunod na henerasyon.
Sinupin ang pag-iimbistiga sa pagpatay na walang pinapanigan. Huwag sanang maging katulad ito ng pag-imbistiga ng pagbaril kay Fr Joefran Talaban. Salamat naman at siya ay nakaligtas. Mariing pinanindigan niya ang laban ng mga tao sa APECO. Junio 26, 2010 siya binaril ngunit hanggang ngayon ay wala pang resulta ang nasabing imbistigasyon.

Huwag sanang patagalin ang pag-imbistiga at may agam-agam na ang mga naninindigan para sa Kalikasan at katarungan na inisaisa na sila dito sa Aurora tulad ng Ampatuan.
Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance, Inc

Ika-5 ng Hulyo, 2012

SAVE SIERRA MADRE NETWORK ALLIANCE OFM Provincial House 69 San Pedro Bautista Street, SFDM, Q.C.
Tel: 373-2973 Fax: 3732972 Email: savesierram@yahoo.com Facebook: Save Sierra Madre / Twitter: follow us @savesierramadre

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[From the web] Aurora project draws flak -manilastandardtoday.com

Aurora project draws flak.

by Macon Ramos-Araneta
May 3, 2012

OPPOSITORS of the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Free Port project in Casiguran led by the town’s parish priest on Wednesday slammed the apparent inaction of Malacañang on their plight.

Senator  Edgardo Angara and his son, Aurora Rep. Jun Edgardo “Sonny” Angara co-sponsored  Republic Act 10083, creating APECO.

The younger Angara and Aurora Gov. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo, the senator’s sister, sit on the economic zone’s Board.

Fr. Jose Francisco Talaban, parish priest of Nuestra Senora dela Salvacion in Casiguran, said she endorsed the undertaking unmindful of the residents who stood to lose their source of livelihood.

“We are not giving up hope. We and the church believe that in case of  developments, it should be for the common good of the people, and not only a few,” Talaban told Mabila Standard during the sidelines of the “Balitaan sa Aloha Hotel” on Wednesday.

Read full article @ manilastandardtoday.com

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[From the web] Filipinos Reject Mega Project in Pristine Area –

Filipinos Reject Mega Project in Pristine Area
by Madonna T. Virola
February 25, 2012

The remote province of Aurora is a promising tourism destination in the Philippines – blessed with natural attractions and historical sights.

But activists and locals are worried about its future given the government’s plans to build the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone or APECO, in the area.

Expected to be a major hub in the Pacific region, it’s also home to thousands of farmers, fisher folks and indigenous people.

Several protests demanding the project be halted have been staged.

And recent investigations by the anti-APECO international mission have revealed early signs of human rights violations in the project area, located in the isolated municipality of Casiguran.

Madonna Virola joins the investigation team to take a look.

I’ve joined an anti-APECO mission travelling to the remote province of Aurora.

The team consists of local Filipinos along with Dutch and Swiss religious leaders that support the cause.

We left the capital Manila 8 hours ago and have driven through the beautiful scenery around Sierra Madre Mountain.

As we get closer to the coastal town of Casiguran, we are greeted by vast agricultural lands, fishing grounds and the Pacific Ocean’s pristine beaches.

This is also the designated site for the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone, or APECO.

Mark Cebreros from the Human Rights Commission says the project has already raised concern over alleged human rights abuses.

“We saw apparent signs of displacement of communities affected by the APECO project. We saw infrastructure projects, buildings, an airstrip, fences being constructed as well as bank houses, on land that are alleged to have been taken from residents without just compensation or allegations of forcible eviction and harassment. We also saw indigenous peoples communities of Dumagats of Ildelfonso complaining of harassment, of attempts to grab their lands and dispose them of their traditional areas; we’re able to meet with informal settler families, who, while they do not possess title to the land had been there 50 to 60 years and whose right of possession are being taken from them without meaningful consultations, without the opportunity for them to put up viable alternatives to ensure their livelihood.”

Thousands of indigenous people, farmers and fishermen have railed against the APECO project.

This 12-thousand-hectare economic zone will be a manufacturing and industrial complex located in front of the Pacific Ocean – a real threat to the livelihood of Aurora’s current residents.

Villagers will have limited access to their rich fishing and farming grounds.

The local church has organized international and local support against the project.

Father Jose Francisco Talaban is from the local church.

“We’re doing an International Solidarity Mission because we believe that through the solidarity of the many people who are very sympathetic to rights of the farmers, the fisher folks, the indigenous people, we can make this advocacy really brought into the different countries and will help us to tell that there are people here in Casiguran, Aurora asking for help. By your help, the people will be encouraged especially the victims of the Aurora Pacific economic zone, to stand for their rights.”

During the mission visit, people affected by the project stand up and raise their voices on the stage.

Victor Abahon is a member of the indigenous group Agta.

“They say they offer development. But they don’t consult us. It’s only for those who support them. We also like development but when they put up buildings in our island, how can we work there? They are taking our fishing grounds, our source of livelihood.”
The campaign’s tagline is: “It’s more fun in Aurora without APECO” – a twist on the Philippines’ new tourism slogan.

But it’s far from fun for Father Jose Fransisco Talaban, whose convent room wall was bombed by alleged supporters of the APECO project.

“It was 2 o’clock in the morning, I was sleeping when the bombing incident happened, on the wall of my room, I heard a heavy, big explosion, followed by three gunshots. We searched but the culprits had escaped. We thought that it’s just an ordinary thing that I heard, but at 5 o‘clock when I woke up, in the pathway near my room, I saw 5 laminated materials, in that, they accused me as communist, the son of the demon. There were petitions and they asked the bishop that I have to be replaced here, it was orchestrated by barangay officials here.”

In Manila, APECO president Robbie Mathay defends the project saying it is for a greater good.

“There are so many beaches, and the natural beauty of that place, it’s hard to imagine nobody put up hotels, would need staff. Investments in community has sort of multiplier effect. Maybe eco-trekking, here’s a lot of mountain trail, waterfalls. Initially, we’re seeing domestic tourism. I expect in 3 years time period, we’ll be attracting the mainstream international tourists from the region like Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea. Maybe within the next year, backpackers, we’ll be welcoming them.”

The government has allocated 7 million US dollars from this year’s budget and the first phase – a 3-star hotel and administration building – is already underway.

The bill that created the Aurora Special Economic Zone or ASEZA was signed into law by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on June 2007 and began operation a year later.

Two years later, the law was amended and renamed the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone, or APECO, and was granted a much larger area.

Despite ongoing protests, Aurora Governor Bella Angara-Castillo says the majority of the population support the project.

“We will submit recommendations for Congress to at least review or if possible repeal law the creating APCEO.”

Mark Cebreros from the Human Rights Commission is speaking to the media about human rights violations in connection to APECO.

“We’re also going to conduct further ground investigation, we’re recommending that the Commission send several investigators to the field to take depositions from the affected residents, and finally, we’re recommending for the conduct of a public inquiry for all stakeholders, even the proponents, so there will be an opportunity for all of them to meaningfully dialogue and attempt to come out with a just and equitable solution.”

APECO’s president Robbie Mathay says he is ready to start a dialogue with the residents.

“Maybe their perception of what APECO can do is probably ill-advised by certain parties. We’re being accused that we’re land grabbing, that we’re violating human rights. We’re very business- like in the way we conduct our business, we’re open and transparent, and we try to involve all stakeholders in the community. It’s a really big area, so maybe when we conduct our dialogue, (which) we have to do per barangay (village); not all of them area there at once, and not all questions are addressed in general assembly, in think there’s still some confusion of what APECO is going to be.”

Groups opposed to the project have filed a case to repeal the law.

Bishop Rolando Tria Tirona, a member of the anti-APECO movement, tells locals not to lose hope.

“At the end, the truth will come out.”

Source: www.asiacalling.org

[In the news] Church backs repeal of Apeco law; cites abuses in free port project -INQUIRER.net

Church backs repeal of Apeco law; cites abuses in free port project.

By Tonette Orejas
Inquirer Central Luzon
February 21, 2012

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—A bill has been filed seeking the repeal of a law that created the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport (Apeco), drawing the support of the Church in a statement pointing to alleged abuses committed in pursuit of the project.

Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano filed the bill on Monday, about two years after Republic Act No. 10083 (Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Act of 2010) was enacted in April 2010 to amend RA 9490 creating the Aurora Special Economic Zone (Aseza) in 2001. Both bills were sponsored by Sen. Edgardo Angara and his son, Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara.

Lapsed into law

“After its passage in 2010, [former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo] was supposed to sign it in 30 days. However [Arroyo] failed to sign it or veto it. So it is moot and academic that the law was passed officially by the gesture of Malacañang,” Mariano told the Inquirer.

The Apeco law mainly expanded the free port’s coverage to 12,923 hectares, he said in the bill’s explanatory note.
Lands marked for agrarian reform, reservations and those covered by ancestral domain claims have been covered by Apeco, he said.
Mariano said the local government and residents were not informed or consulted about Aseza or Apeco, violating their right to due process.

Enriching the few

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said the Church supports the move to repeal the Apeco law.

The law merely enriches “the few, while sacrificing the interest of the poor,” said Pabillo, who also chairs the National Secretariat for Social Action (Nassa) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
Pabillo urged President Aquino to take a closer look at Apeco and suspend its operations and budget, which has been slashed from P3.5 billion to P332.5 million.

“We challenge the sincerity of this government and we hope it starts by upholding the well-being of the poor over the designs of powerful politicians behind questionable legislation like Apeco,” said Pabillo.

Indigenous peoples, farmers and fishermen in Aurora sought the help of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in their campaign against Apeco.
CHR Chair Loretta Ann Rosales said she would ask the commission en banc to support the repeal of the Apeco law because of the human rights violations that were committed in the course of building the free port.

Read full article @ newsinfo.inquirer.net

[From the web] Infanta clergy organizes anti-APECO mission

Infanta clergy organizes anti-APECO mission
by Jason de Asis, Bagong Aurora Website ng Bayan

CASIGURAN, Aurora, February 17, 2012-A two day international solidarity mission (ISM) was organized by the Prelature of Infanta appealing for international and local support against the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (APECO).

The anti-APECO groups said that the highlights of todays’ mission until tomorrow is to strengthen the anti-APECO campaign on both local and national levels towards the repeal of Republic Act 10083 (amended version of the RA 9490) renamed as the APECO.

The ISM groups are Swiss, Dutch and Filipino faith-based leaders, local anti-APECO support groups, representatives of the CHR and NCIP, together with media around the area of the eco-zone will conduct onsite visit today.

The group furthered that the first day will be a community sharing between the international delegates and local communities, with each sector represented, while the second day underscores the delegates’ visit to the indigenous people and fishing communities affected by the ecozone to listen to their experiences in relation to APECO.

They expected to come up with a comprehensive report about the issue on the ecozone which will be sent to different international organizations and concerned Philippine government agencies, on the local level two (2) days after the probe.

The prelature said that the report will detail the mission’s findings and appeal for appropriate actions, which are beneficial for the residents and affected communities and sectors in Casiguran, pressure international and inter-governmental bodies to issue statements against APECO and persuade the ecozone’s funders and potential investors to withdraw their commitments and investments.

Read full article @ jasondeasis.wordpress.com

[Statement] FCAID statement in support of the anti-APECO struggle

The Faith-based Congress Against Immoral Debts (FCAID) is one with international and national delegates, members of affected local communities (residents, farmers, fishers and indigenous people) in supporting the anti-APECO struggle due to its “exclusive development model” and its violation of the 1987 Constitution on incurring indebtedness without need of the concurrence of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

The APECO stretch covers three municipalities: Casiguran, Dilasag and Dinalungan. Formerly known as Aurora Special Economic Zone (ASEZA) in RA 9490, the new APECO law expands the ecozone from 500 to 12,427 hectares, covering more barangays in the municipality of Casiguran such as Dibet, Esteves, San Ildefonso, Cozo and Culat. Farmers, fisherfolks, indigenous peoples’ leaders and the residents have repeatedly raised concerns against the creation of the ecozone due to non-consultation with the officials of APECO and its violations of the CARPER and IPRA laws and some provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

In the Encyclical Letter of Pope John Paul II, “Sollicitudo Rei Socialis” during the 20th Anniversary of Populorum Progressio, it stated that the Social Concern of the church was directed towards an authentic development of man and society, which promote all the dimensions of the human person. Its Article 32 and 33 also said that peoples or nations too have a right to their own full development, which goes beyond economic. However, the need for development cannot be used as an excuse for imposing on others one’s own way of life. “Nor would a type of development, which do not respect and promote human rights – personal, social, economic and political, including the rights of nations and of peoples – be really worthy of man.”

The Aurora Pacific Economic Zone (APECO) insists that it is out to “develop” Aurora for the benefit of the province’s poor. It aims to rake up enough investment to transform the municipality into a “self-sustaining industrial, commercial/trading, agro-industrial, tourist, banking, financial and investment centre with suitable residential areas.”[1] Poverty in three municipalities covered by APECO, it is argued, will be alleviated, employment generated for the province of Aurora, and industrial development spurred throughout the Northeastern Philippines in general.

However, the local communities around the APECO site will be in danger of being or have been forcibly displaced, and their lands, which are either a part of CARPER or an ancestral domain, have become a part of the APECO coverage despite objections from the rightful owners – the farmers and the IPs. In addition, the IPs is forced to stay in core houses of substandard quality. Fisherfolks and their families are also affected since the shorelines for saltwater fishing starting from the southern tip of the peninsula of San Ildefonso going along Casiguran Bay to the opposite shore of the Casiguran Sound measuring 57.4 km are subject to conversion into a freeport.

As for spurring job growth throughout Aurora, the fact is that most of the residents near the area are considered too unskilled for the industries that APECO proposes to introduce. Once dispossessed of their lands, waters, ancestral domains and other livelihood resources, they are in danger of becoming part of the country’s low-end, contractual “floating work force”— who have been repeatedly shown “not to benefit from government projects like the public-private partnership scheme.”[2] As for the alternative livelihood program inside APECO, those who have already begun working for the SEZ have complained to anti-APECO groups of inadequate compensation, irregular and unstable work hours, delayed paychecks and a near-complete absence of other benefits. They retain almost no bargaining power with their employers, and due to the unskilled nature of the work that they perform, are easily replaced should any conflicts between them and the management arise.

“If development is supposed to be for the people of Casiguran, Delasag and Dinalyungan, why is it that the affected sectors and communities were never consulted prior to the passage of Republic Act 9490 now amended as RA 10083? Even local government units of covered barangays were never informed, consulted and considered before the approval of the law,” FCAID Coordinating Committee member Ric Reyes questioned.

“APECO is once more an example of development aggression. The people have become victims, not beneficiaries, treated as mere human resource, not as participants and partners in development,” Reyes added.

APECO encourages indebtedness

In a recently filed case at the Supreme Court, one of the cited violations of the ASEZA/APECO laws was written in Section 12, Powers and Functions of APECO. The ecozone can borrow funds from foreign sources and incur indebtedness without need of the concurrence of the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas. This provision is in direct conflict with Article XII, Section 21 of the 1987 Constitution.

“This is a dangerous idea to toy with because APECO can easily pass on its indebtedness to the national government by using sovereign guarantee like what the many corporations during the Marcos era did. If APECO is really for development, it should not depend on loans for funding its operations. It should not allow passing its debts onto the Filipino people. It should welcome mechanisms for checks and balances and thus follow the provisions of the 1987 Constitution. Let us not allow more immoral debts to emerge from this project that will surely destroy the environment and displace peoples/sectors and communities,” Fr. Edwin Gariguez, NASSA Executive Secretary and FCAID Execom member.

[1]An Act Amending Republic Act 9490, Otherwise Known as the “Aurora Special Economic Zone Act of 2007”. R.A, 10083. 27 July 2009. Laws of the Republic of the Philippines, 2009. Print. 16.

[2]Cellona, Jonathan. “Gov’t urged to aid ‘floating work force.” Business World Online.8 December 2011. Web. 12 February 2012. <http:></http:>

[Event] “It’s More Fun Without APECO” – A Call for Solidarity with the Anti-APECO Struggle

 
15 February 2012
 
Dear Friends, Supporters and Fellow Advocates,
 
 
We, from the Prelature of Infanta and Task Force Anti-APECO, are hoping for your solidarity with our latest efforts to stop the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (APECO). Since 2007, we’ve been campaigning against the construction of this ecozone in the town of Casiguran, Aurora.
 
This February 16-20, we’re launching a social media platform entitled “It’s more fun in Aurora, without APECO” to spread word and to reach out to sympathetic groups. Beyond APECO itself, this platform will be highlighting the negative impact of special economic zones and their underlying development model on the poor, showcasing concrete grassroots alternatives to APECO, in Casiguran and beyond.
 
If completed, APECO will sequester 12,923 hectares of the municipality’s landscape to lure foreign investors, real estate projects and other private sectors ventures to Casiguran. Its sponsors have said that these initiatives will “modernize” Aurora, providing jobs that will uplift the province’s poor.
 
But to do this, APECO will displace the very people it claims it will benefit. More than three thousand families of farmers, fisherfolk, and indigenous peoples will have their lands and resources seized by the Freeport, even if no consultations were ever conducted with them. Just as disturbing, APECO’s port will be built in the natural habitat of endangered species such as whale sharks and pawikans.
 
If you’re interested to about the anti-APECO struggle and committeed to seeing a more people-centred, equitable, and ecologically-rooted development model adopted in the Philippines, we’re warmly inviting you to follow (“like”) us at the following websites and venues:
What’s happening in Casiguran and APECO, we believe, is a microcosm of what’s happening in the entire Philippines. Beyond supporting our social media platform, we’re highly encouraging you and your organizations to issue public statements against APECO, or to stage solidarity film showingson the APECO issue. In the past, we’ve been able to have filmmakers such as Ditsi Carolino produce wonderful documentaries on the APECO issue— it’s these documentaries that we can share with you in your respective areas.
 
For more information about the anti-APECO struggle, about what kinds of statements you can write, and about arranging these possible film screenings, you’re welcome to to email us at morefunwithoutapeco@gmail.com, or reach us at any of the websites listed above.
 
Thanks for reading, and we’re hoping for your support and solidarity. The future of Casiguran, and those who will be affected by APECO hangs in the balance.
 
Sincerely,
 
The Prelature of Infanta
Task Force Anti-APECO