By Ding Cervantes Updated May 29, 2009 12:00 AM [ [philstar.com ]
An Aeta leader holds a copy of the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title covering 7,440 hectares handed out by President Arroyo in Floridablanca, Pampanga the other day. Willy Perez
FLORIDABLANCA, Pampanga, Philippines – President Arroyo went mountain-hopping here the other day to distribute to Aetas their first-ever “clean title” to 7,440 hectares of their ancestral land on the mountain ranges of Mt. Pinatubo.
The President visited Aeta settlements in Barangays Apalit, San Ramon, Palmayo and Nabuklod to hand out to the tribal folk the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT).
This town is within Pampanga’s second district, which covers Lubao where Mrs. Arroyo is a registered voter. Her visit here was her 14th in four months.
The President later met with Aeta leaders in Sitio Moncayao in Mabalacat town, near the Clark Freeport.
“It is the first clean title to be issued by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) covering ancestral lands,” said NCIP-Central Luzon director Salung Sunggod.
He said CADT No. RO3-FLO-1206-057 came 12 years after the establishment of the NCIP, adding that it will benefit 1,423 Aetas in Pampanga.
“All encumbrances on the title have been eliminated and all other claims to the ancestral domain have been segregated and settled,” he said.
Sunggod said the approved and declared net land area of 7,440.10 hectares covers the barangays of Mawakat and Nabuklod in Floridablanca, plus portions of San Marcelino town and Barangay Batiawan in Subic town, all in Zambales.
Aurea Miclat-Teves, executive director of the Project Development Institute (PDI), said that aside from the Aetas’ oral tradition, “their actual labor on the land is the enduring proof of (their) claim over their ancestral domain.”
“After acquiring their full rights to their land, the challenge facing the Aetas now is to develop and fully utilize it,” she said.
The PDI is a non-government organization that has been helping landless farmers and Aeta communities displaced by the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991.
Teves said the Aetas “appreciate the conventional concept of legitimate ownership, which a land title represents. They believe that the most important function of land titles is in providing them security and protection.”