FOR THE Aetas of Tarlac, industrialization is perceived not as a sign of progress but as a threat to their ancestral land.

The claim of the Bamban Aeta Tribal Association (BATA) of Tarlac over their ancestral land was threatened when Malacañang ordered to put its titling on hold and have the land revalidated.

The UST Office for Community Development (OCD) and its partner community, the Bamban Aeta Tribal Association (BATA) of Tarlac has long applied for the certificate of ancestral domain title (CADT), which was supposedly awarded last December.

However, Clark Development Corporation appealed to the Office of the President, which released last December a directive in favor of CDC to the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

CDC is a unit of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority.

According to OCD director Joey Cruz, the 10,500-hectare ancestral land lies just outside the walls of the CDC which claims it as sub zones.

“Clark doesn’t want to give the land because of the big investment opportunity there,” he said. “And our position (OCD and BATA), is why should there a need to revalidate if it’s a proper government agency that measured it?”

Cruz also said once a CADT would be given to the Aetas, any development on the area would pass through the title holders, who will also share in the profit to be generated from the land.

According to Cruz, the BATA would conduct an assembly on April 2 to be participated in by the 12 sitios where they would discuss their stand against rumored CDC’s planned movements against the titling of the land sometime between April and May.

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The Aeta’s claim was passed to the NCIP a year ago for its conversion to CADT, which will formally recognize the rights of possession, protection, preservation, and ownership of their ancestral land.

The CADT was supposed to be granted to the BATA last December upon signature by the Land Registration Authority administrator Benedicto Ulep and the President.

This issue was just some of the matters discussed during the BATA seminar held at the Thomas Aquinas Research Center last Feb. 2 to 4.

Among the concerns talked about was the restructuring of the organizational form of BATA.

Seven committees were created to decentralize some of the work from the chieftain to the other leaders of the community.

“Mahirap ‘yung over-dependence sa chieftain (kaya) ini-limit nalang siya sa board of director level,” Cruz said.

The committees are for: the protection of the ancestral land, livelihood, natural resources, tourism, social services, leadership, and the promotion and preservation of their culture and tradition.

Also discussed were the specific plans for each of the committees.

Some 23 Aeta leaders from the nine out of 12 sitios attended the seminar.

On the other hand, OCD also conducted the second leadership and planning seminar for the urban poor youth of Brgy. 226 of Tondo.

According to Cruz, the seminar was to help the Tondo youth in their construction of a recreational center, which would be funded by the Consuelo-Chito Madrigal Foundation.

“(‘Yung) idea ng center is to provide the youth with a safe environment to spend their time like in music, recreation, sports, and even technical skills,” said Cruz.

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Held at La Roca Trinidad Resort in Makiling, Los Baños, Laguna last Feb. 25 to 27, 33 youth from Tondo attended along with some 20 students from UST. John Rheeno T. Cabangcalan


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