Manila – An opposition senator wants a Senate inquiry into the alleged displacement of “Aetas” and other indigenous communities caused by the New Clark City (NCC) Development Project in Capas, Tarlac.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros filed Senate Resolution No. 257, urging the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities to conduct a probe into the said displacement in aid of legislation.
Hontiveros said there were around 15,000 local farmers and 20,000 Aetas and Abelling indigenous communities likely to be affected by the said project under the Bases Conversion Development Authority or BCDA.
“Development should not come at the expense of the rights and welfare of the indigenous communities and of the environment,” Hontiveros added. “Pinagmalaki natin ang mga katutubong kultura sa opening ng Southeast Asian Games sa New Clark City pero tinatanggalan naman natin sila ng lupa at kabuhayan.”
“Hindi tunay ang pag-unlad kung may paglabag ito sa karapatan ng mga katutubo at ng kalikasan,” she said, lamenting on the reports of “hectares and hectares of green land” being converted into concrete.
Last November, an eviction notice was issued to the Aeta families of Barangay Aranguren, Capas, Tarlac by the BCDA to give way to the construction of a road connecting Clark International Airport to NCC.
Hontiveros said indigenous communities in the area are protected by Republic Act 8371, or the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA).
The resolution said Aeta communities in the area have applied for the Certificates of Ancestral Domain Titles or CADT in 1999, 2014 and in 2019 for around 18,000 hectares in Capas, Tarlac.
The BCDA, meanwhile, said it has followed due process by consulting the Capas local government while offering financial assistance package amounting to P300,000 per hectare or P30 per square meter to the indigenous community.
“We need to understand that it is not just homes and livelihood that are being taken away from them,” Hontiveros said. “Honoring and cherishing our indigenous cultures and cultural communities should not be merely paid lip-service.”
“We need to ensure that development comes in a way that indigenous people, cultures and the environment are protected and remain sustainable. We need to build greener and smarter cities that include everyone,” added Hontiveros./PN