ADMU, Quezon City
11 December 2012

President Benigno S. Aquino III stood firm with the government’s decision to review and restudy the contested Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (APECO) project in Casiguran, Aurora province.

In a dialogue with more than 100 indigenous peoples, fisher folks and farmers from Aurora who marched from the province since November 24 to request the government to suspend the project and save their land and livelihood from the economic zone, the President presented the map showing the areas which will be affected by the project and then mentioned that he and the heads of the concerned agencies have already discussed about the best solution and remedy to the problem. He assured them that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) is already working on an agreement stating that they can still use the area for farming and fishing, and to until when they are allowed to use the government-owned property. President Aquino also asked them to give him a copy of their resolution and said that he will ask the concerned agencies to meet with them in order to resolve the issues.

The Casiguran locals requested the government to distribute the 105-hectare school reservation of Aurora State College of Technology (ASCOT) to farmer-beneficiaries thru its Board of Regents headed by CHED, to immediately issue Deed of Transfer from ASCOT property to DAR, to issue Certificate of Land Ownership Titles (CLOAs) to farmer-beneficiaries who have been farming the land since 1960, and for the Department of Agriculture (DA) to provide support services such as farm-to-market roads and credit facilities.

They also requested the awarding of Foreshore Lease Agreement to some 200 fisher folk families in Casiguran South who will be displaced because of the construction of the Air Strip within the coastal areas of Casiguran, the issuance of Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) to Agta-Dumagats and to stop the release of the budget for the project.

At the end of the dialogue, President Aquino said that the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) will have a thorough review of the project.  Once he receives the initial findings, the President and heads of the involved government agencies will decide whether to continue or to stop the APECO projects in Casiguran.

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