THE OFFICE for Community Development (OCD) and the Bamban Aeta Tribal Association (Bata) Training have agreed to promotional and developmental plans regarding the management of the latter’s ancestral land during a planning congress at the Thomas Aquinas Research Center seminar-workshop room last Sept. 29 to Oct. 1.

“Madali lang naman pala ‘yung pagpapunlad (ng ancestral land) kung nagkakaisa (kami),” said sitio Santa Rosa representative Jonathan Cosme.

Bata and OCD will still conduct consultations and a more detailed planning with the rest of the Aeta communities.

OCD director Joey Cruz said the planning congress was a response to Pope John Paul II’s call to all Catholic Universities to promote social justice.

“Helping the Aetas exercise their ownership in developing and protecting their ancestral domain is the best way to show (social justice),” he said.

The OCD is part of the municipal taskforce that aims to convert the Aeta’s certificate of ancestral domain claim (CADC) to a certificate of ancestral domain title (CADT), which will formally recognize the rights of possession, protection, preservation, and ownership of their ancestral land.

The CADC only states the claim of the Aeta communities over their ancestral land.

Also included in the taskforce are the National Commission on the Indigenous People, and the Tanggapang Pan-legal ng Katutubong Pilipino, a non-government organization and law firm.

Participating in the seminar were twenty-five Aeta community leaders and representatives from nine sitios in Bamban, Tarlac, who proposed the development of their 10,500-hectare ancestral land as well as the promotion and protection of their culture and provision of basic services like education, health, electricity, and safe water. The Aetas also plan to strengthen their leadership structure. J.R.T. Cabangcalan

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