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Fisherfolks ask SoKor govt to withdraw investment on Apeco project

MANILA, Jan. 1, 2012—The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) appealed to the South Korean (SoKor) government to withdraw its funding for the Aurora Pacific Economic and Free Port (Apeco) as it would affect the livelihood of small farmers and fisherfolks living in the area where the port is located.

In a letter sent to the Embassy of South Korea, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap and vice chair Salvador France told SoKor Ambassador to Manila, Lee Hye-min that the Baler-Casiguran road and the Casiguran Seaport projects, amounting to ₱1.416 billion and ₱2.439 billion respectively, would have “devastating impacts” to the livelihood of farmers, fisherfolks and indigenous peoples and even to the environment.

The fisherfolk leaders also told the Ambassador that the Apeco project as a whole is “highly opposed by the farming, fishing and indigenous communities” because it would harm the livelihood of the people and would lead to the eventual destruction of the environment in Aurora province.

They also told Lee that the enabling laws creating the Apeco project violated the provisions of the Philippine Constitution, particularly the agrarian reform and social justice clauses.

Citing the petition of Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano and other complainants filed before the Supreme Court, Pamalakaya argued that Republic Acts (RA) 9490 and 10083 violated the constitutional provisions pertaining to agrarian reform and social justice as the said laws had virtually cancelled the certificate of land ownership awards and emancipation patents given to agrarian reform beneficiaries living the area where the Apeco is to be erected.

Pamalakaya also told Lee that hectares and hectares of ancestral lands by the Agta and Dumagat tribes will also be reclaimed by the project, a culpable violation of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997.

Pamalakaya says that the aforementioned reasons are enough to convince the Ambassador to consider their appeal and withdraw its funding to the controversial project. [Noel Sales Barcelona/CBCPNews]