ANGELES CITY – United with their representatives under the Sangguniang Tribung Ayta ng CADT 025-A, the indigenous people (IP) now want the Clark Development Corp. (CDC) out of their 10,600 hectares ancestral domain and their “joint management agreement (JMA)” in their estate with the state-run firm annulled.
During a press conference here on Wednesday, officers of the STA CADT 025-A led by president Oscar Dizon, vice president Robert Serrano, and legislative secretary Albert Dela Cruz, along with Ruvielane S. Margarito, IP representative in the Mabalacat City council, said they want to enforce their customary laws and tradition and cut ties with the CDC.
Margarito said since the signing of the JMA in 2006 until now, the CDC has not rendered any report on the monies involved in their business transactions and even a list of locators within their ancestral domain.
During a meeting held on March 9 where five CDC board of directors were present as well as representatives of the LGUs of Mabalacat City and Bamban, Tarlac headed by their respective mayors, the CDC is still unclear on their supposed JMA, she said.
Declared Serrano on the other hand: “Kailangan nang putulin ang aming ugnayan sa CDC para maiangat ang aming kabuhayan sa aming lupain (We need to cut our ties with CDC so that we can uplift our livelihood in our own land).”
“Hindi po totoo na kaming katutubo ay nag aaway away (It is not true that we IPs are quarreling among ourselves),” he said, belying reports that a rivalry among tribal groups caused diffi culties in the implementation of the JMA.
Dizon affirmed Serrano’s statements: “We are united in the STA CADT 025-A which is recognized by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) because all our tribal chieftains have certified it.”
Margarito said CDC presented them with a check worth P14,607,000 which purportedly represented their 20 percent share in their JMA.
Margarito said CDC director Francisco Villaroman told them to open an account and “get the money already.” But she said they will not accept the check because they need an accounting of all the transactions of CDC concerning their ancestral domain “in the spirit of transparency.”
“Mag o-audit pu muna kami kasi hindi namin pweding tanggapin ito dahil ito po yung estimated na kinita ng ancestral domain namin so in the spirit of transparency, kung talagang in good faith sila bigay po nila ang kabuuang kwenta (We need to conduct an audit first before we can accept the check representing our estimated share from the use of our ancestral domain and in the spirit of transparency, and if they are really in good faith, we should be given the accounting of the whole funds),” Margarito said. “And we also requested for the list of all CDC locators inside our ancestral domain.”
Margarito lamented that after almost 10 years since the signing of the JMA, not a single document or report was presented by CDC, “not to mention that we suffer discrimination every time we make a request.”
Margarito also said the CDC is always saying that “we are not entitled to our share because we are not united.”
But she said even after forming their group, the CDC said they still cannot avail themselves of the money because they are a “private organization” and the organization should “first be certified by the NCIP.”
“We were told that our representatives should be democratically elected by our tribal leaders before the CDC can recognize it,” she added. “So, we did that for three years starting 2014 to form Sangguniang Tribung Ayta CADT 025. We had assembly meetings and all tribal chieftains have issued certifications on its approval that is why we have elected three representatives each from Mabalacat and Bamban.”
“It was in the March 9 meeting that we informed the CDC that we have elected our representatives,” Margarito said. “But the CDC was still adamant. We are wondering why the CDC, despite the NCIP certification of our representatives, still won’t recognize our rights.”
“We do not recognize the JMA which has a clause of 75 years,” she said. “While we still have a lot of questions on the JMA, we are not saying that that money (P14 million) is not rightfully ours because it was derived from the use of our ancestral domain.”
For his part, Serrano advised all locators to now deal directly with them through the STA CADT 025-A.
“Lahat welcome lalo na po tungkol sa business. Pati CDC handa kaming makipag- ugnayan sa sino man, kaya lang dapat mayroon kaming free, prior and informed consent (FPIC),” he explained.
Dela Cruz said the CDC can no longer issue business permits in areas within the ancestral domain, but it is now the LGUs concerned that should issue the corresponding business permits.
“Locators should first secure an FPIC and clearances from the STA CADT 025-A being the land owner,” he added, stressing the CDC is no longer recognized.
Some 15,000 Aetas are registered under the communal ownership of the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) 025-A of about 10,600 hectares adjacent to the Clark Freeport Zone in the boundaries of Mabalacat City in Pampanga and Bamban town in Tarlac.