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3,000 farmers to be displaced by Aurora ecozone


By Manny Galvez Updated February 22, 2009 12:00 AM [ philstar.com ]

CASIGURAN, Aurora, Philippines – A top official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the municipal mayor of this town, along with some 3,000 tenant farmers, will be among those to be displaced by the establishment of support infrastructure for the special economic zone in three barangays in this town.

Benjamin Miña, DENR provincial environment and natural resources officer, and Mayor Reynaldo Bitong who both own vast tracts of lands, will have their landholdings acquired by the government to pave the way for the construction of the 500-hectare Aurora Special Economic Zone Authority in barangays Dibacong, Dibet and Esteves.

Jaime Melendres, ASEZA deputy administrator, told The STAR that they are still in the process of identifying who the other private landowners are, adding they would negotiate with them.

He said Miña has expressed willingness to give away his land for a reasonable acquisition cost so that the ecozone project could push through.

Melendres said an estimated 3,000 tenant farmers would be affected by the establishment of the ASEZA and its support facilities. He said that the figure is still to be validated. “The number is unconfirmed,” he said.

Miña’s 12-hectare property is situated in Sitio Motiong, Esteves adjacent to the proposed Casiguran airport. His residential compound, which houses a semi-concrete wooden house, assembly hall, a fish pond, mangrove species and fruit tree and coconut plantation, would also house the administration building of the ASEZA to be known as the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone Office.

Ground-breaking rites for the administration building were held on Jan. 28. Also covered by the ecozone project is the 30-hectare property of Bitong.

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