Lawmakers seek inquiry on Clark Green City project
MABALACAT CITY — A group of congressmen is pushing for an inquiry on the possible impact of the 36,000-hectare Clark Green City (CGC) project to the indigenous people in Tarlac and Pampanga.
This was gleaned in a proposed House of Representative Resolution Number 383 introduced by Representatives Ariel Casilao, Carlos Isagani Zarate, Emmi De Jesus, Antonio Tinio, Arlene Brosas, France Castro, and Sarah Jane Elago.
The resolution will direct the House committees on agrarian reform and human rights to conduct a joint inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the impact of the project to the surrounding communities particularly those of that Aetas.
The Clark Green City project, which covers 36,000 hectares property north of the Clark Freeport and Special Economic Zone (CFSEZ), was approved by National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) on August 6, 2013.
Former President Benigno Aquino III approved the project on May 29, 2014 and led the groundbreaking ceremony in Capas, Tarlac on April 11, 2016.
CGC is a mixed-use, industrial, institutional and commercial area, with a so-called first phase enclave covering 1,321 hectares and with a 9,450-hectare metropolis serving as the main zone.
Aetas and residents belonging to the Kilusang Nagtatanggol sa Inang Kalikasan (KNIK), Tarlac Ayta Tribal Association (ATA), Pagmimiha Organization, Labayku Organization, Bamban Ayta Tribal Association, Sta. Lucia Manggahan Association, and Nagkakaisang Naninirahan ng Sta. Lucia, since 2013 have actively called for the cancellation of the project and have likewise expressed their opposition to the Capas Military Reservation.
The affected residents sought the help of the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL, Peasant Alliance in Central Luzon), the regional affiliate of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines), with regard to reported cases of abuse by elements of the 56th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.
Farmers are prohibited to cultivate their lands and barred from bringing in construction materials for their houses.
These incidents prompted the AMGL, KMP and the Asian Peasant Coalition to conduct an International Fact-finding Mission (IFFM) with delegates coming from India, Bangladesh and Indonesia in November 2014 regarding the impact of the said project.
The IFFM reported that the reported abuses transpired in Barangays Sta. Juliana, Aranguren, Patling in Capas town, and Barangays Anupul and San Vicente in Bamban town.
On January 26, 2016, officials of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) reportedly invited the affected farmers including the KNIK leader Ferdinand Manaloto, in a meeting in Clark.
The BCDA officials allegedly offered the farmers a contract that waives their rights and of the community in exchange for the compensation.
The affected farmers claimed that their crops and livelihood were destroyed beauce of their opposition of the project;
On September 17, 2016, Casilao attended the KNIK assembly held at Capas Cathedral, Tarlac province, where farmers and Aetas asserted their rights over the land and the community.