CENTRAL LUZON JOINS UNITED PEOPLE’S SONA AS BUILD, BUILD, BUILD WORSENS DEVELOPMENT AGGRESSION
Heavy rain from the southwest monsoon enhanced by Tropical Depression, serious flood and seven checkpoints attempted to stop the peasants and Indigenous People of Central Luzon from reaching the United Peoples SONA this year. “They can delay our vehicles but never our anger!” they said. Not even sickness could prevent them from marching to Batasan to hold a protest particularly on the worsening development aggression in several provinces like Tarlac, Pampangga and Zambales. They have come a long way to testify that during the past two years President Rodrigo Roa Duterte had never fulfilled his promise: to improve the lives of the Filipino people. Displacement of Aytas in Tarlac including thousands of national minorities due to numerous projects lined up the President’s Ten-Point Economic Agenda.
The president’s BUILD, BUILD, BUILD program triggers the destruction of productive farmlands of local peasants and the ancestral domains of the Aeta which is rich in agricultural resources. The peasants’ plea is to stop the ambitious project of Bases Conversion Development Authority or BCDA’s NEW CLARK CITY. It’s estimated that the project would approximately convert 9,450 hectares of land wherein majority are fertile productive land which are considered as the life of our peasants. As part of the development, they are now starting to flatten the mountain ranges of Tarlac and Zambales as Botolan-Capas road is set to finish as soon as possible.
The Aeta calls on the stop of several government projects like the Balog-Balog Multipurpose dam and the Crow Valley Military Complex. The Dam is set to convert a huge portion of their ancestral domain into a mega-dam that would only benefit the occupants of New Clark City. A fact finding mission also discovered that the main contractors and workers of the dam are Chinese. On the other hand, the military complex raises concern as it will become a training area of Philippine soldiers and American troops where it could affect the peaceful community of several Aeta tribes. Currently, the Balikatan exercises continuous to held through EDCA – Enhance Defense Cooperation Agreement which affect the Aeta community as they cannot go down to town to sell their products and go to school.
KAMANDAG – a group of artist and writers whose advocacy is to join the peasants and Aeta in defending their rights created an 8-foot-image of Rodrigo Duterte holding a gun and having a hand of a bulldozer as it symbolizes the use of violence to implement his ambition. A man also wore a mask of Duterte while wearing a bulldozer which in the fields, are used to flatten the hills and destroy rice fields. Thousands saw the works and learn about the issues of the national minority and peasants of Central Luzon.
Walking with clenched fist are our brothers from Central Luzon, testifying on their ordeals and struggles in defending their right to land as well as their lives