By LYN V. RAMO
QUEZON CITY—For someone who knows full well the track record of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, voting or campaigning for whoever runs against her is as easy as reciting the ABC.
“Who else would I vote as representative of Pampanga’s 2nd district if given a chance?” Nelson Mallari, Katribu Partylist secretary-general and third nominee said in Filipino in an interview during a lull from a meeting at the party’s headquarters here.
Mallari who hails from Barangay Nabuclod, Floridablanca said Arroyo could have run unopposed for the congresional seat if her “kabalen” (townmates) like her to represent them.
Mallari said Katribu would “definitely campaign for whoever runs against Arroyo,” adding “this woman should never be allowed any seat in government again.” Arroyo is seeking a congressional seat against three opponents.
Asked what made him a staunch campaigner against Arroyo, Mallari said the Filipino people have suffered a lot under the Arroyo presidency.
Mallari said, she did not even spare her kabalen, citing the experience of the indigenous Aeta population, who were made to believe that “Arroyo has a heart for indigenous peoples” when she allegedly pushed for the passage of the revised implementing rules and regulations of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA).
Major Aeta settlements are in Floridablanca and Porac, both in the second district of Pampanga.
Mallari said kabalens who are in the know of Arroyo’s track record will not even vote for her knowing full well “how she instituted massive land grabbing through the issuance of mining and quarrying concessions, building of the Subic-Clark Expressway (SCTex), eco-tourism projects in Pinatubo and the commitment of large tracts of land to jathropa, all depriving the Aeta access to their traditional livelihood sources.”
Mallari said the Aetas who were given certificates of ancestral domain titles (CADT) should not be happy because the CADT even institutionalized land grabbing.
“Amid the awarding of CADTs are projects that take away our ancestral domain,” Mallari said, citing the impending quarrying in Nabuclod, which was earlier granted a 7,440-hectare CADT, supposedly benefiting some 454 families.
Mallari also mentioned that the SCTex “facilitates the transport and exploitation of natural wealth from the Aeta territories in Central Luzon, particularly Bataan, Zambales, Tarlac and Pampanga.”
“Access to our ancestral domain will be a lot easier with the construction of these highways,” Mallari said, adding that the farmers whose land have been expropriated through government instrumentalities, have yet to see the payment of their land.
A victim of military harassment, Mallari said he could not even go home to Nabuclod to cast his vote for fear of getting apprehended, or worse, killed. He said his name was included in the military’s order of battle (OB) because of his involvement in anti-Arroyo campaign.
“Many indigenous leaders are in the military Order of Battle,” he said. “How could we vote for our townmate who is behind our sufferings?” he asked.
Like Mallari, Bayan Muna Partylist Representative and Makabayan Senatorial bet Satur Ocampo who is from Sta. Rita, Pampanga,is against Arroyo’s candidacy. Ocampo recently endorsed Architect Adonis Simpao.
“It takes a lot of guts to run against Macapagal-Arroyo, and Architect Simpao has that. His commitment against corruption and for good governance led to his decision to throw his hat into this arena and the people of Pampanga know that,” Ocampo said in a statement. (Bulatlat.com)