“The railroading of the law creating the Aurora ecozone at the House of Representatives and the Senate, therefore, is another violation of their due process right. The compulsory coverage of affected sectors’ properties constitute taking without due process of law and without payment of just compensation,” Mariano said.
“We challenge the father and son tandem of Sen. Edgardo Angara and Rep. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara and all members of the House of Representatives to support the repeal Apeco bill. This corrective measure is legally, politically and morally necessary,” the groups said in a joint statement.
“If they really have nothing to do with Apeco or they have no investment on the ecozone project, then by all means, the Angaras should come with clean hands and affix their signature to the repeal Apeco bill and stop the government from pursuing this road map to wholesale corporate takeover and mass destruction,” said Pamalakaya vice chairperson and Resist Apeco, Defend Aurora Movement convener Salvador France.
President Benigno Aquino III has classified Apeco as a flagship project under his government’s public-private partnership program. Critics point out that Aquino supported the project to clinch the support of Angaras .
France said the designation of Rep. Angara as spokesperson of the prosecution panel in the impeachment case against Chief Justice Corona is an exchange deal so the Angaras will continue to have an effective control over Apeco.
Church supports Apeco repeal
The National Secretariat for Social Action (Nassa) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines is also supporting the campaign for the repeal of the Apeco law.
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said the Apeco law “enriches the few while sacrificing the interest of the poor.” Pabillo also stands as the chairman of Nassa Pabillo said the President should look more closely at Apeco and in the immediate, suspend the project, its funds and its operations. He called the legislation that led to Apeco “questionable” and said that the government’s sincerity in upholding the welfare of the poor was put into doubt when it supported the Apeco.
CBCP-NASSA executive secretary Fr. Edwin Gariguez for his part said the passage of the Apeco affirms the perception that the legislature conveniently passes laws that serve their interests, but will suspend the advancement of bills that are inimical to their advantage.
“The Apeco, which was granted extensive powers by the law that even goes beyond the regulatory control of the local and national government, covers 12,427 hectares of highly irrigated lands, and displaces thousands of farmers and indigenous people. Its creation is highly questionable given that the affected sectors and communities were never consulted about the economic zoning. Moreover, the people will be made to pay for its establishment through the taxes, even without a discernable benefit to the people of Aurora. The APECO is clearly a private enterprise, designed to uphold the interest of foreign investors and enrich the few who control its operation,” he said.
The CBCP-Nassa also condemned the attack against Rev. Fr. Jose Francisco Talaban, the parish priest of Nuestra Señora de Salvacion parish and known for his open criticism against the project.
Gariguez said the resistance of the Prelature against the project is well justified, in relation with the Social Teachings of the Catholic Church.
“The right to progress, insofar as community development is concerned, becomes acceptable if it was inspired by moral values that consider the integral development of people, and if the advancement of the few will not be a cause of suffering for the many. Clearly, this is not the case with APECO. If the lands will be appropriated for the purposes of the economic zone, many indigenous people will lose the only home they ever had, and the food security of the province will be imperiled as wide tracks of irrigated and productive lands will no longer be utilized for agriculture,” Gariguez explained.
“In the light of the undemocratic nature of this enterprise, we further urge the new government to take utmost action to uphold social justice, peace, and the rights of the IPs and farmers in the area, and stop any eviction and respect the communities’ decision to keep their land and their demand for a community-led agricultural development plan.”