The Inbox

Angara defends APECO vs. landgrabbing rap

By Jonathan de Santos, VERA Files

Sen. Edgardo Angara took the Senate floor on Wednesday to answer what he called malicious and vicious allegations against the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (APECO), which he helped create.

On Tuesday, Sen. Sergio Osmena III and members of Task Force Anti-APECO held a press conference against the continued existence of the freeport zone. Osmena said the government had spent P 2 billion to develop the area but that it has failed to attract investors.

Angara said the figure of P2 billion had been "maliciously exaggerated."

He said the government only released P915.8 million to APECO from 2008 to 2012. Of that amount, he said, P135.7 million was still in the bank.

Around P78 million was used to pay workers and employees, P145 million for maintenance and operations and P556.8 million for capital outlay, or for infrastructure, he said.

Addressing allegations that there were insertions in the budgets of departments of Trade, Agriculture, and Science and Technology that gave APECO extra funding, he said, "None of the amendments outlined in the Committee Report for the 2013 General Appropriations Bill include insertions for APECO."

He said APECO already has at least five locators, or investors, "doing preparatory work in the area."

Among them, he said, are Asia Pacific Resource Recovery and Tiger Carbon, which deal in bamboo and in renewable energy. He said they have invested P35 million in APECO and the venture will have a manpower requirement of 200.

Aurora Fastbuild Corp., a construction and manufacturing firm, has also invested P10 million, while Marine Colloids of the Philippines has proposed an investment of P4 million for a processing center for food-grade seaweed, the senator said.

In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Kent Avestruz, APECO spokesman, said some residents of Casiguran, Aurora are already in livelihood programs, which includes seaweed farming.

"Around 400 people are currently employed because of infrastructure projects inside the Ecozone which include the APECO Administration Building, Site Development, Construction of APECO Gates and Staff Housing, he also said.

Angara said 500 more jobs will be created in the construction of an APECO hotel, a National Housing Authority relocation site, and an ice plant and cold-storage facility.

Task Force Anti-APECO counts farmers and members of the indigenous Agta Dumagats who accused APECO of land grabbing.

Angara said, however, that APECO "has never resorted to the right of eminent domain or expropriation as a mode to acquire lands." He said the freeport zone authority negotiated and paid for land it will use.

He explained said parcels of land sold for a higher price—up to P650,000 per hectare, according to Anti-APECO—because they of houses, basketball courts, and fishponds already built on the property.

Angara also parried criticism that APECO took land from the Dumagats, saying the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples never called APECO's attention to any possible violation of IP rights.

NCIP "has even commended APECO's work with the Dumagats and other IPs," he said.

Although Angara is not a member of the APECO board, his son Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara and his sister Aurora Gov. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo have seats by virtue of their positions.

Both Angaras helped pass the law creating APECO.

Fr. Edwin Gariguez of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action has criticized APECO as "large-scale plunder and landgrabbing by a powerful political dynasty."

Task Force Anti-APECO supports 125 marchers, who claim to represent around 3,000 families who could lose their land to APECO. The group is expected to walk from Casiguran to Malacanang to ask President Benigno Aquino III for an independent review of APECO.

Angara said, however, that this was improbable since there are only 1,336 households in the area covered by APECO. "How can 120 people represent 3,000 families?" he said.

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for "true.")

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl
    Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen says he has found the Japanese Navy’s biggest warship at the bottom of the sea in the Philippines, 70 years after US forces sank it. Allen posted a photo on Twitter on Tuesday of the World War II battleship Musashi’s rusty bow, which bore the Japanese empire’s Chrysanthemum seal. The American billionaire, who has also pursued space exploration, said his luxury yacht and exploration ship, the M/Y Octopus, found the Musashi one kilometer (1.6 miles) deep on the …

  • Miriam bucks house arrest for Enrile
    Miriam bucks house arrest for Enrile

    Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago believes granting Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile house arrest, while former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo remains under hospital detention, will violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution. “That’s already a violation of the equal protection of the law,” she said. …

  • 8 of 10 cities most at risk from natural disasters located in Phl – study
    8 of 10 cities most at risk from natural disasters located in Phl – study

    Eight of 10 world cities most exposed to natural hazards are in the Philippines and more than half of the 100 cities most exposed to earthquakes, storms and other disasters are in four Asian nations, according to a research. The study, published on Wednesday by risk analysis firm Verisk Maplecroft, analyzed the threat posed by storms, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, volcanoes and landslides in more than 1,300 cities. The study found that the 10 cities most at risk are Port Vila in …

  • US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea
    US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea

    The US ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, was recovering from surgery Thursday after having his face and arm slashed by a knife-wielding activist in an attack applauded by North Korean state media. The United States condemned the "act of violence" which saw the ambassador rushed to hospital where his condition was described as stable after two-and-a-half hours of surgery that included 80 stitches to a deep gash on his right cheek. During the assault, Kim screamed a slogan in favour of …

  • World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too
    World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too

    TOKYO (AP) — The world's oldest person says 117 years doesn't seem like such a long time. …

  • New Moro rebel group emerges
    New Moro rebel group emerges

    A radical Muslim cleric trained in the Middle East and considered one of the leaders of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has broken away from the terror group to form his own band of jihadists who are now reportedly providing sanctuary to bomb expert Basit Usman and at least five foreign militants, the military said yesterday. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla, citing reports from the field, said the Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM) was …

  • Ohio mom, boyfriend guilty; child emailed teacher for help

    PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (AP) — A woman and her boyfriend pleaded guilty to raping her young children and were sentenced to prison on Wednesday, a year after one of her daughters emailed a teacher for help and said she and her siblings were being chained to their beds, deprived of food and sexually assaulted. …

  • UNA hits PNP selection process
    UNA hits PNP selection process

    The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) hit yesterday the apparent machinations in the selection of the new Philippine National Police (PNP) chief. Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, UNA interim president, said the administration and the ruling Liberal Party (LP) are perpetuating the bata-bata or patronage system in the selection process of the police chief. “They will start this by maneuvering the appointment of Gen. Garbo as PNP chief,” said Tiangco, referring to one of the top contenders for PNP …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options