Priest urges zero budget on APECO

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MANILA, Nov. 28, 2012?A Church official has expressed support on the policy demands of Casiguran Marchers and urged the Aquino government to prove his ‘Daang Matuwid’ by giving the Aurora Ecozone a zero 2013 budget.

The marchers are fisherfolks, farmers and indigenous peoples from Casiguran, Aurora province displaced by the creation of Aurora Pacific Economic Zone (APECO) in the area.

Fr. Edu Gariguez, NASSA executive secretary.

The government has already shelled out more than P800 million to fund the construction of the APECO, even though it has brought no benefits to the marginalized sectors of Casiguran, Aurora, said Father Edwin Gariguez, Executive Secretary of the National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (NASSA).

“The Aquino administration must instead hold it accountable for its incompetence and past mishaps, rather than enlarging APECO’s budget for 2013,” Gariguez added.

He explained the Casiguran marchers have six policy demands in order to protect their lands and livelihoods.

“We at the CBCP-NASSA support the demands of the Casiguran marchers because they believe in participatory and sustainable development where they envisioned an implementation of the asset reforms,” the priest said.

Gariguez, who is also co-convenor of the Task Force Apeco, cited that the testimonies given by the affected families in Aurora were enough to prove that the APECO project was a large-scale plunder and land grabbing by a powerful political dynasty in Aurora.

The Casiguran marchers have demanded for an independent review of APECO towards a possible repeal of APECO law or the RA 9490 and RA 10083; zero budget allocation for 2012; to provide settlement areas for small fisher families already displaced by APECO; to distribute the 105 hectares of prime agricultural land to 56 landless farmers of Sitio Reserva, Brgy. Esteves; execute guidelines and measures to ensure the credibility and integrity of FPIC-soliciting processes within the Casiguran municipality; and to ensure the respect of stewardship contracts of 90 households under Integrated Social Forestry programs in 288-hectares of APECO-covered areas. [SocialActionNews]

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