CLARK FREEPORT – Some 2,000 Aeta families in 30 sitios and barangays in Capas, Tarlac are reportedly being
pressured by the military into abandoning their ancestral lands to give way to government plans to build the so-called Clark Green City project that would allegedly cover 36,000 hectares in their area.
Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL) Chair Joseph Canlas said military men have allegedly been telling the Aetas to leave, telling them that the lands they live on and till are part of military reservation.
“This is part of plans being laid out by the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) for the Clark Green City which we expect to lead to privatization and widespread land use conversion and selling of lands to foreign and local investors.
This would be all against the rights of the Aetas and farmers wanting genuine land reform,” Canlas said.
“In Capas alone, some 19,972 hectares are covered by the reservation which are all within the ancestral domain of the Aetas. About 2,000 Aeta families have been told to leave 30 sitios or barangays such as Aranguren, O’Donnek, Maruglu, Sta. Lucia, Bueno at Sta. Juliana,” said a joint statement issued by the AMGL, Central Luzon Ayta Association (CLAA), Anakpawis party-list, and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan).
Canlas noted that already, a group called Kilusang Nagtatanggol sa Inang Kalikasan (KNIK) has been formed in Tarlac to protest the project. The group is composed of Aetas, farmers and other residents of Capas, including those who belong to such groups as Pagmimiha Organization, Labayku Organization, Bamban Ayta Tribal Association, Sta. Lucia Manggahan Association and, Nagkakaisang Naninirahan ng Sta. Lucia at Koalisyong Makabayan – Tarlak.
Canlas recalled that the subject lands had always been Aeta domain until 1947 when the lands were made a military reservation for the US Air Force at Clark. The entire area covered 33,653 hectares, he noted. When the Americans abandoned Clark in 1991, it became owned by the government-controlled BCDA which later reserved it for the Clark Green City project that would cost P200 million and was meant to replicate the Songdo International Business District in Korea.
Canlas said the military has barred Aetas in the area from expanding their farms and imposed curfew in Aeta communities, as he cited reports that the area has been found to be rich in manganese, gold and magnetite.