Thus said Atty. Restituto “Resty” Capulong, senior executive assistant to Clark Development Corp. President-CEO Benigno R. Ricafort in a statement after Punto disclosed to the state-owned firm the issues raised by the Mabalacat Aeta Tribal Association (MATA) on the agreement they signed with Aetas based in Bamban, Tarlac.
“The CDC is legally bound to follow the JMA,” added Capulong, referring to the Joint Management Agreement (JMA) signed in 2007 by the CDC, Bamban Aeta Tribal Association (BATA) and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
“It is sad to note that some groups and not the Aetas were the ones which may have prepared the issues against the JMA and its IRR (implementing rules and regulations),” added Capulong. He disclosed that the IRR has yet to be implemented and yet they are against it already.
Citing a recent study, Capulong disclosed that the CDC will spend some P11 billion to fully develop the Sacobia area dubbed as “The Next Frontier.”
“Investors will not come if we will not make the place attractive to them. The sharing scheme giving more share to the CDC is necessary to have a return of investment considering we will spend billions to make roads, utilities and other infrastructure projects in the area,” said Capulong.
“The issue on income sharing scheme submitted by Congressmen Lazatin and Lapus can be heard by Congress without necessarily hindering the parties to the JMA from accomplishing their duties and responsibilities. The JMA is a valid agreement. No reason for its suspension,” said Capulong. He was referring to the congressional inquiry pushed by Congressmen Carmelo “Tarzan” Lazatin of Pampanga and Jeci Lapus of Tarlac.
“The (80-20) sharing scheme was agreed upon among the parties which include the NCIP. After the execution of the JMA, the NCIP even formed a team to validate its authenticity and whether the Aeta community understood the same. The NCIP validation team recommended for the approval of the JMA by the NCIP en banc,” he added.
“The incentives being enjoyed by the locators/investors were not given by CDC. They were provided for by law,” stressed Capulong.
Point by Point answers
“The draft IRR of the JMA has a Filipino (Tagalog) translation. This was explained using the Filipino language, to the members of the Tribong Ayta on June 11 and 17, 2009. The presentation and explanation of the contents of the draft IRR was conducted by NCIP with the assistance of CDC,” he said.
“Translation and explanation of the contents of the IRR using Maganchi language is a responsibility of the NCIP, being the primary government agency created by the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997 to protect and promote their rights and well-being,” Capulong said.
He disclosed that the term of the JMA is 75 years and in the draft IRR, the JMA is subject for review every five years.
“In our previous discussions with the NCIP on this matter, NCIP clarified that there is no need for every locator or investor to secure FPIC (free and prior informed consent) from the individual claimants,” said Capulong.
“The FPIC given by the Aeta community to CDC to manage and develop the ancestral domain is already sufficient subject to the agreement that every contract to be entered into by CDC with locators/investors shall be ratified by the Joint Development Committee (JDC),” he added.
“The IPRA as well as the Guidelines provide that in the formulation of the ADSDPP, all existing plans or plans which are already in place, like the Master Development Plan must be taken into consideration. The IPRA mandates the harmonization and not the suppression of existing plans to give way to the ADSDPP,” said Capulong, a former board member in Pampanga. It is so unfair to blame CDC for the belated formulation of the Aeta’s ADSDPP, he added.
“The Bamban Aeta Tribal Association (BATA) just like the MATA is also registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In fact, BATA was incorporated in a much earlier date (1996). The BATA was instrumental to the conversion of the CADC (certificate of ancestral domain claim) into CADT (certificate of ancestral domain title). MATA was formed just recently,” said Capulong. He said the CDC would recognize the MATA “if they get the necessary papers from the NCIP regarding their status.”
“The JMA is a management agreement authorizing CDC to manage and develop the ancestral domain of the Aeta community. By this, the Aeta community has given the authority to CDC to lease or to enter into joint venture subject to the 80%-20% sharing of income therefrom,” added Capulong. The Master Development Plan caused to be prepared by CDC for the CSEZ includes the CADT area since the same is still part (geographically) of the CSEZ, he said.
On the issue raised by the MATA that local government units (LGUs) should be included in as permanent members of the Joint Development Committee, Capulong said “this issue is to be addressed by the JDC, the decision-making body created under JMA.”
Capulong said the Aetas whom they call “tribong Aeta” had been properly informed about the JMA.
“The process followed in obtaining the FPIC was documented and facilitated by NCIP. It was done in accordance with the IPRA and the FPIC guidelines. The records show that the Aeta community was properly consulted and represented by their tribal chieftains,” said Capulong.
“The vehicles were solicited by the Aetas. Granting their request, the vehicles were given to them by CDC in red plates. However, the said vehicles were already converted into green plates except for the vehicle being driven by Oscar Rivera which is still on process by reason of a traffic violation recorded,” said Capulong referring to the questions raised by MATA on the 10 vehicles given by then CDC President and CEO Levy Laus to the BATA last year.
”In their request, the Aetas agreed that the amount spent by CDC in purchasing the said vehicles is deductible from the 20% share of net income. This agreement was made with the blessing of NCIP high officials.”
“This is a matter which is internal to the Aeta community. If they decide to split their development fund into two (one for BATA and another one for MATA), it is their decision. This concern can be addressed with the assistance of the NCIP,” said Capulong referring to the share of the Aetas to the development fund.
“The JMA was executed on 6 December 2007. The contracts referred to were entered into by CDC even prior to the JMA. Nevertheless, it was settled among the parties during the drafting of the IRR that income sharing scheme will be retroactive to 12 November 2004, the date of issuance of the first CADT which was subsequently recalled by the NCIP due to the inclusion of titled properties within its coverage,” said Capulong on the issue that they should remit shares to the Aetas from the income deprived from leasing of lands before the signing of the JMA .
“The implementation of the JMA and its would be IRR will be in consonance with law. Even “unats” or non-indigenous peoples’ will be accorded their rights,” stressed Capulong. He added that “as far as CDC is concerened, it has complied with the commitments under the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). “
Capulong said “It was clearly provided in the draft IRR that the LGUs are members of the Project Monitoring Team (PMT).”
“It was agreed among the parties that since the management of the area was already given to CDC, the contracts that will be entered into will be subject to ratification by the JDC which is fair under the circumstances,” said the CDC official. He added that “this provision on withholding the 20% share was already deleted by agreement of the parties.”
“CDC is a government corporation. The governing body is its board of directors (BOD). Without the approval of the BOD, all actions would be null and void. Further, CDC is governed by government auditing and accounting rules and regulations,” said Capulong on the issue raised by MATA that contracts with locators should be referred first to the JDC and not the CDC board.
“The relocation of the Aeta and non-Aeta families that will be affected in the development of the area is a matter that was fully discussed during the negotiation. How can you lease out an area to investors full of houses or dwellings?” said Capulong. But he said the affected Aeta families will be “properly transferred.”
“The Aeta Development Fund (ADF) which was agreed among the parties refers to the 20% share. At least 30% of this fund must be allocated for community/social projects. This is so provided in the IPRA. If the Aeta community opts to devote more than 30% of the fund to community projects, it is their option,” said Capulong.
He disclosed that they are open to discuss with the Aetas on “limiting” the land to be leased to pave the way for the development of “tribong Aeta” communities.
“What is being asked is just to respect what the law provides, that is, the CDC as the implementing arm of the government to manage the Clark Special Economic Zone. The JMA authorized CDC to manage the ancestral domain within the CSEZ,” said Capulong.
“ This does not mean that the Aetas and non-Aetas living in the domain will be divested of their rights under pertinent laws. They will still be respected and taken into consideration,” he added.
The ADSDPP can be implemented by the Aeta community alongside with the Master Development Plan
Lastly, the LGUs can also perform their responsibilities and functions alongside with the implementation of the JMA, ADSDPP, Master Development Plan or any other plan. What is needed is coordination, harmonization and synchronization of the said development plans, Capulong said.