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Capas, Tarlac Mayor Reynaldo Catacutan on Monday insisted that no Aeta or other indigenous communities were displaced by the construction of the New Clark City Development Project.

“Noong sa venue ng [Southeast Asian] Games eh wala po ni isang Aeta ang natamaan po sa venue na pinagtayuan ng gymnasium, aquatic [center], Athletes’ Village,” Catacutan said during a hearing of the Senate committee on cultural communities.

He said the local government of Capas and the Bases Conversion Development Authority talked to the indigenous communities and offered them P300,000 per hectare to compensate for the value of the land.

“Lahat po ‘yan kinausap namin ng BCDA at lahat po ay tumanggap ng P300,000 per hectare pero wala pong tinamaan dahil ang mga kabayahan po ng Aeta ay nandoon po sa may Kalangitan resettlement area,” he said.

“Sa Kalangitan, wala pong na-dislocate na kahit isang Aeta. Intact po sila,” he added.

Catucatan added that the development plan even generated employment for the indigenous peoples.

Moreover, he said the problem is not with the BCDA nor the local government, but with the Department of National Defense.

“‘Yong 5,000 hectare na sinasabi, ang conflict po nasa Philippine Air Force, sa Department of National Defense…. Mayroon pong conflict may 5,000 hectare na both kini-claim ng Air Force at ng Aetas,” Catacutan said.

“Overlapping ang Air Force kaya kailangan [Department of Environment and Natural Resources] na ang magsabi kung saan ililinya ‘yon,” he added.

Meanwhile, Senator Imee Marcos, chair of the committee, said she will urge the DENR and the Air Force to coordinate to clarify the ownership of the said ancestral domain.

She also formed a technical working group that will involve the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, the local government of Capas andTuklas Katutubo.

“At least magbuo na tayo niyan kung ano recommendation nila tungkol sa Proclamation 163 ng Crow Valley versus sa sinasabi nating ancestral gomain para magkaroon na ng tuldok ito,” she said.

Last year, Senator Risa Hontiveros filed a resolution seeking an investigation into the possible displacement of 20,000 Aetas and other indigenous communities due to the construction of the NCC Development Project.

Hontiveros said the BCDA issued an eviction notice to Aeta families of Barangay Aranguren in Capas, Tarlac to give way to the construction of a road connecting the Clark International Airport to NCC.

Meanwhile, the BCDA said that it followed the due process by consulting the Capas local government and offering a financial assistance package of P300,000 per hectare or P30 per square meter.

Hontiveros, however, said that this was not enough as people needed to understand that "it is not just homes and livelihoods" being taken away from Indigenous communities but their "cultural identity" as well.?— BM, GMA News

This article No IPs displaced in New Clark City development, Capas mayor tells Senate was originally published in GMA News Online.

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