Subic promoting the rights and welfare of IPs, now a model

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Oct. 13 (PNA) –Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), being successful in promoting the rights and welfare of the indigenous people in the Freeport, plays model for other economic zones in the country which are located inside ancestral lands.

SBMA initiated for the creation of a joint management agreement (JMA) and its implementing rules and regulations (IRR) until they were signed in September 11 and October 2013, respectively, by the SBMA management and the tribal council of the Ayta Ambala who “owns” vast land area of the Freeport.

The Aeta Ambala tribe of Subic Bay holds a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) representing ownership to the more than 4,280 hectares of land covering the Kalayaan and Binictican Housing Area, Apiliin and Pamulaklakin Area, El Kabayo Area, among others.

The JMA upholds the rights of the Aetas in the pursuit of uplifting the economic, cultural and social conditions of their tribe based on the programs being implemented by the government.

JMA also provides systematic management and development of the ancestral land as indicated in the Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan while ensuring the promotion of human rights of the Aeta Tribe.

In 2011, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) chairperson Zenaida Brigida Hamada-Pawid commented, “This occasion is memorable to the NCIP because the Aytas became partner not only beneficiary in an issue that promotes their welfare.”

The JMA signed between SBMA and Tribong Ayta Ambala in Pastolan will serve as template for all agreements entered by all indigenous people with regards to the use of their ancestral lands by any investor and business group.

The comment was made after signing the JMA with chieftain Conrado Frenilla of Pastolan Tribal Council, then SBMA administrator Armand Arreza and chairman Garcia, in front of the joyous village residents at the heart of the Ayta tribal community in Pastolan, Hermosa, Bataan.

“Most of the Aytas,especially the elders, cried as it is only now that their dreams came true–to have genuine right to the ancestral lands,” Frenilla said.

The initiatives of SBMA in uplifting the living conditions of the indigenous people living inside the ancestral land within the Freeport area gains respect from all sectors of the society, especially the NCIP and other tribal communities.

Recently, the Ateneo De Zamboanga University invited SBMA chairman Roberto Garcia as guest speaker for a forum dubbed “From Zamboanga to Subic, In Search for Partnership” held at the Garden Orchid Hotel, Zamboanga City.

The forum aimed to pick up insights from SBMA’s experiences and the Ayta’s JMA, and to help deepen understanding of the Zamboangueños on the two-fold issue of land use and land ownership between the Subanon and the Zamboanga Economic Zone (ZAMBOECOZONE).

“Your presence and your inputs shall concretize the writings and the experiences summarized in the book report which was developed after our historic joint study-trip in Subic and Clark,” said ADZU director Loreta Sta. Teresa in her letter.

Sta. Teresa added that the forum will be a venue to materialize what ADZU envisioned for a new Mindanao, where multi-cultural communities live in peace and harmony.

In his presentation, Garcia explained that with the signing of the JMA, the Aeta tribe will collect five percent of the gross income paid by the investors for rent of the land starting May 12, 2009 the date the CADT was registered.

Above this, each Aeta family will receive Php20,000 a year from SBMA which is subject for increase accordingly on the 6th, 11th, 16th and 25th year while a donation of Php100,000 each for fiesta and Christmas celebrations of the village.

Able Aeta workers will be given priority in any job hiring as being implemented for the construction of USD450-million solar and wind project in 20-hectare of land in Mount Santa Rita.

SBMA also turned-over the management of Pamulaklakin Tribal Park to the Aytas after completing the transition period for management training.

Other benefits include launching of community development assistance programs, construction of two schoolrooms for high school with four teachers, community clinic with detailed medical personnel from SBMA Dispensary.

October of every year was declared National Indigenous Peoples Month by virtue of Presidential Proclamation Order (PPO) 1906 signed by Malacañan on October 5, 2009 “for the purpose of heightening nationwide peoples’ awareness and participation in celebration and preservation of indigenous peoples communities.” (PNA)