QUEZON CITY, PHILIPPINES —Members of the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) appealed to lawmakers to repeal Republic Act No. 9490, the law that creates the Aurora Special Economic Zone Authority (Aseza) as it will displace thousands of peasants, indigenous peoples, and small fishermen.
Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said, the creation of the Aseza will not benefit the people of Aurora but will create an enormous problems as the zone will “eat up” more than 13,000 hectares of arable lands and inland waters.
“The Senate President and the House Speaker should be informed and convinced why the creation of Aseza is a menace to the people, contrary to public interest and a mega project conceptualized in hell. [Juan Ponce] Enrile and [Feliciano] Belmonte are called to conduct a full-blown congressional [inquiry] on this whether jointly or separately,” the Pamalakaya official said.
The bill had lapsed into law last April 22. However, an amendment was made by Sen Edgardo Angara through creating a new law under RA 10083 – the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport (APECO) which will extend the 500 hectares to 13,000 hectares including the areas that are home to several indigenous communities, small farmers and fisherfolks in the San Ildefonso Peninsula.
For the Angaras?
Allegedly, it was the influential Angara clan who had pushed for this project, without any consultation with the people of Aurora. Hicap said it was the family and relatives of Sen. Edgardo Angara who will benefit from the economic zone.
It was the father and son tandem of Senator Edgardo Angara and Rep. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara who had filed the said bill in the 14th Congress. The Aseza will be the fourth in the series of newly created special economic zones in Luzon. The other three was the Subic Bay Free Port in Zambales; Clark Zone in Pampanga; and the Bataan Export Processing Zones, which were created years ago.
The rationale in creating the fourth special eco-zone is to serve as a vehicle to develop the province’s agricultural prowess and eco-tourism potential.
In an information website, Aurora.ph, the Aseza is expected to “spearhead the steady flow of investments to Aurora not only from Philippine entities, but from international enterprises as well.”
“Another great opportunity for investors is the Pacific Coast City Ecozone. This Special Economic Zone is a massive project to develop a new coastal city in the provinces of Aurora and Quezon. The development plan involves the construction of an airport, seaport, new roads, resorts, and residential, commercial and industrial areas,” stated the website.
Aseza is also envisioned to be a model agro-marine center as it will have a fish port, canneries and processing plants for the fresh produce. Also to be build inside the eco-zone are reefer facilities to accommodate marine harvest from the vast Pacific Ocean and mari-culture farms will put up to cultivate high value marine products for export.
“To kick off the construction boom inside Aseza, the proponents had proposed the construction of a P437million corporate campus which will be finished in 15 months. The corporate campus which will house ASEZA administrative building, will also host a three-star hotel and other amenities will employ at least 300 labor force,” Pamalakaya revealed.
Support of Roman Catholic bishops, sought
Hicap said Pamalakaya will try to get the support of the 117 archbishops and bishops of the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to persuade Senator Angara, his son Aurora Rep. Angara and sister Aurora Gov. Bella Angara-Castillo to refrain from pursuing a project that is major catastrophe in the making.
In line with the anti-Aseza campaign, Pamalakaya will conduct a national fact finding and solidarity mission in Casiguran, Aurora to determine the impact of the project to the indigenous, farmers and fisherfolk communities come August 24-28.
Hicap said the mission will be spearheaded by church based groups like the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), the Promotion of Church Peoples’ Response (PCPR), Discernment Groups of the Roman Catholic Church, the Multi Sectoral Action Group of Aurora, Parish Pastoral Council- Nuestra Senora de Salvacion, the Kapatirang Simbahan para sa Bayan (Kasimbayan), Ecu Voice convenors, the Kalipunan ng Kristiyanong Kabataan sa Pilipinas (KKKP) and human rights watchdog, Karapatan. (Published in CBCPNews.com)