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Aeta group demands a full audit report on P19M unclaimed funds

September 22, 2022 - Thursday 6:09 PM by Raheema Velasco

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During the Senate hearing on Committee on Cultural Communities and Muslim Affairs on Thursday, the Aeta community from Clark Sub-Zone in Central Luzon demanded a full audit report from Clark Development Corporation (CDC).

“Sana magkaroon po ng full audit [report] kung magkano ba ang share ng pamayanang katutubo simula ng magkabisa ang JMA (joint management agreement) kasi po talagang wala po kaming naging kaalaman sa loob ng 14 years,” Ruvielane Margarito, representative of the Indigenous People in the city council of Malabalacat, Pampanga, said.

(I hope there will be a full audit of how much the indigenous community's share is since the JMA (joint management agreement) came into effect because we have not had any information for 14 years.)

In December 2007, there was an agreement between Clark Development Corporation (CDC), the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), and Tribong Ayta.

Under the agreement, the Aeta community is bound to have a 20 percent share of the net income from rentals and use of their ancestral domain.

But 14 years later, Tribong Ayta noted that they are yet to receive their total share of that 20 percent.

Margarito also said that CDC is giving them varying numbers about their development income report.

Last September 9, Senator Robin Padilla filed Senate Resolution 149, seeking an inquiry into the unclaimed P19 million funds for Aetas in the Clark Sub-Zone in Central Luzon.

"Fourteen years since the signing of the JMA, the Tribong Ayta are yet to receive their full share of the 20% of the net income arising from rentals and use of the ancestral domain as reported by the Aytas of Sitio Haduan, Mabalacat, Pampanga, during an audience on August 2 2022 with the Office of Senator Robinhood Padilla in Pasay City," the resolution read.

Other demands

Other than the audit report, Tribong Ayta also asks for a 2 percent increase in their percentage every five or ten years.

“Kung walang magiging escalation, syempre sa mga pumapasok na investors sa loob ng lima o sampung taon, may mga development na, kaya wala nang masyadong gagastusin,” the representative added.

(If there is no escalation, with the investors coming in within five or ten years, there are already developments, so there will be little to spend.)

They also want to reduce the number of JMA agreements to 25 years from 75 years. According to the group, there should be a new negotiation with the partners after the first 25 years.

At the end of the contract, Tribong Ayta wants CDC to turn over their ancestral land to them, given that both parties will not renew their contract anymore.

“Nasa 50 [years] po ‘yun, siguro naman puwede nang maibalik sa amin na pamahalaan naman namin at siguradong kayang kaya na po ng mga katutubo na kami na lang ang mamahala sa aming pagmamay-aring lupaing ninuno,” she stressed.

(It's about 50 [years], maybe it can be returned to us to manage, and the natives are sure we can manage our ancestral land.)

The group also demanded to create implementing rules and regulations to guide them in executing JMA and removing important ancestral territories in the agreement.

“Gusto naming mabigyan ng pansin talaga na alisin talaga ‘yung mga sagradong lugar sa aming ancestral domain. Kasi sa mga development na pinapasok ng CDC may mga libingan kaming naisama,” Margarito argued.

(We want to focus on removing the sacred places from our ancestral domain. Because in the developments the CDC introduced, they have included our graves.)

With that, the group wanted CDC to include them in important decisions about their ancestral land, such as securing permits.

“Bilang may-ari, hindi naman siguro kalabisan na malaman namin, makita namin ang kontratang ginagawa nila sa mga mamumuhunan sa amin,” she said.

(As the owner, it might be a little for us to know, we can see the contract they are making with our investors.)

Meanwhile, Padilla stressed that the Senate supports Tribong Ayta in fighting for their ancestral lands.

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