CAPAS, Tarlac — Aeta leaders here on Thursday said they are not aware of any member of their tribe, who was affected by the establishment of the New Clark City (NCC).
In a press conference called for by the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) and the municipal government here, some Aeta chieftains and leaders denied an earlier report of displacements due to the NCC, a community development project being managed by the BCDA.
“Sa aking pagtatanong din sa kanila, wala naman silang sinasabing mga problema (I asked them tribesmen] about it, they did not mention any problem),” said Antonio Sumilang, a long-time indigenous people leader in this town.
Reynaldo Medrano, chieftain of Sitio Kalangitan, lauded the development plans for NCC, saying the employment being generated by the project is a big boost to the livelihood of the people.
“Maganda po ang layunin ng BCDA. Sa tulong po nila at ng LGU, magkakaroon na po kami ng titulo. Gayundin po nagpapasalamat kami dahil wala na pong istambay sa Kalangitan dahil lahat po nakakapagtrabaho sa New Clark City. Yun naman pong sa access road, yun lang naman po ang tinamaan sa mga katutubo pero yun po ay nabayaran na po sila (The objective of the BCDA is good. With their help and the LGU, we will have land title. Likewise, we are thankful because there are no more jobless in Sitio Kalangitan because all have jobs in the New Clark City. Regarding the access road, that was the only one affected as far as the indigenous people are involved but they have already been paid,” Mendrano said.
Jaymar Tiglao, an employee at National Government Administrative Center (NGAC), said that he and his fellow Aetas have also been employed at NCC.
“Marami pong nabigyan ng trabaho ngayon, kagaya ko po pati na ang mga ibang Aeta, lahat po ay nagkatrabaho (There are lots of people given jobs now, like me and other Aeta, all have jobs),” Tiglao said
Engineer Joshua Bingcang, BCDA senior vice president for Business Development and Operations, said that about 300 Aetas are now working at NCC as part of the 6,000 workers under its development stage.
He said that this represents 10 percent of the total workforce of Capas town.
Bingcang also said that the establishment of NCC went through planning, research and consultation, contrary to claims that BCDA implemented a “development aggression” project.
“Dumaan po ito sa proper process, sa master planning and research at consultation sa mga stakeholders. Lahat din ng inputs at concerns ng mga stakeholders sinasama namin yan sa plano. We properly studied and evaluated this development. Ayon din sa mga eksperto sa partner namin na Surbana Jurong, sinabi rin nila na wala itong (adverse) environmental impact (This underwent proper process, master planning, research and consultation with the stakeholders. All the inputs and concerns of the stakeholders were also included in the plan. We properly studied and evaluated this development. According to the experts with our partner in Surbana Jurong (Malaysia), they told us that this has no adverse environmental impact),” Bingcang said.
Capas Mayor Reynaldo Catacutan also repudiated the news about the displacement of any farmer or indigenous people in the NCC project.
“There is no truth in the news that there are tens of thousands of farmers and tribes people living in the 9,450 hectares’ development area that we know to be BCDA’s New Clark City. I know because I am the local chief executive and I make sure that I know my town’s statistics and I am very much aware of critical issues raised by my people especially those who are marginalized such as the indigenous cultural communities,” Catacutan said. (PNA)