Room 312, Manny V.

Pangilinan Center for Student Leadership Ateneo de Manila University, Loyola Heights, Quezon City CONTACT NOS.: 09175751992/09165579886 EMAIL: ateneoateneo Website: http://www.ateneoateneo

THE ATENEO ASSEMBLY - OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND ADVOCACY STAND ON AURORA PACIFIC ECONOMIC ZONE (APECO) The emergence of APECO as an issue immediately brings to mind questions regarding the tenuous relationship between political freedom and economic development. Should we see political empowerment as means for economic development or is economic development a product of political empowerment? These questions have been asked in many forms in many times. Some have claimed that democracy needs a specific arrangement of economic institutions. Others have claimed that “too much democracy” gets in the way of economic growth. However, despite these questions, one fact remains clear all the same: that political freedom and democratic processes can never be surrendered for any greater cause. To railroad the democratic process in the name of a higher cause would be to treat the demos, the people who are the basis of democracy, merely as collateral damage. The 124 farmers marching towards Malacañang is the perfect example of the collateral damage arising from a lack of consultation. A 12,923 special economic freeport zone, APECO aims to industrialize Aurora, specifically the municipality of Casiguran, while maintaining the environment and developing the present thriving livelihood of the residents of the area. While it sounds alluring, the legislation of the APECO act was allegedly ill-prepared. It is said that the locals, mostly farmers and fishermen who live within the land area APECO covers, were not consulted regarding the project. It seems as if the democratic process gave way to the promise of economic growth. Because consultation was not involved in the planning and executing of APECO, the model of economic development chosen thus excluded the locals of Casiguran, thus affecting them negatively. The locals report that the airport serving the economic zone was built on a location near a rich fishing spot. Being sensitive to disturbances within their habitat, the fish tend to move to another location, causing fishermen to lose the usual catch. Another problem raised is that the administrative building of the economic zone was built over a patch of fertile land which was used for planting various crops prior to the enactment of APECO. Finally, what perhaps seems to have been a daft attempt for compensation are poorly built housing that were said to crumble with little structural integrity. The locals requested to have at least a sturdy home for every family who agreed with the establishment of APECO. This is clearly not what the APECO promised: development and progress hand-in-hand with a dynamic tradition. Whatever space for discussion and debate has been made difficult by antithetical and parallel discourses devoid of genuine engagement, leading to mutual exclusion and resentment. Recent events have proven that this is true. While recognizing the predominantly exclusionary discourse of the current administration with regards to this issue, we, the Ateneo Assembly call for a more nuanced opposition. Indeed, it is more than a cause for alarm that there is a seeming lack of a nuanced opposition to validly argue in the name of development, which by far has been the focal point of this non-debate, the monologue of Anti-APECO. Must one be completely against APECO, or the possibility that an alternative model of industrialization can be sought? While we agree that the development promised by APECO need not be in conflict with the lives of the Casiguran marchers, we must still maintain an attitude of openness towards the promise that APECO holds. It is generally well known that SEZs lack research for their justification. APECO is no exception. We, the Ateneo Assembly, wish to avoid the danger of an overly myopic perspective which may be promoted by the monologue of a purely anti-APECO position.
Abot, Bañadera, Dioneda, Limiac, Ordoñez

Room 312, Manny V. Pangilinan Center for Student Leadership Ateneo de Manila University, Loyola Heights, Quezon City CONTACT NOS.: 09175751992/09165579886 EMAIL: ateneoateneo Website: http://www.ateneoateneo

We, the Ateneo Ateneo assembly, condemn the violent displacement of populations, cultures, and livelihoods as caused by the lack of consultation. However, we, the Ateneo Assembly, believe the debate should center itself on the possibility of an alternative model of equitable, participatory development for the human person and not just for the speculative growth of investment. The Ateneo Assembly sees the need to advocate for the establishment of space for mutual interaction between economic development and political empowerment wherein the primacy of human dignity and the citizen’s voice would prevail. In this aspect, APECO may be flawed, but this does not exclude the possibility of a more equitable model of development. In line of the advocacy, we also demand greater respect for the institutions and laws that protect the affected sectors, primarily the farmers, fishermen, and indigenous people. We, the Ateneo assembly, believe that APECO, while paved with good intentions, is premised on a framework that is neither organic nor humane but imposed and unconsolidated. Although economic infrastructure is always necessary, a democratic government should always root the legitimacy of its policies on the sentiments of its people. Its legislations should remain grounded on the realities of those who have invested generations of blood, sweat, and tears to develop the land.

Abot, Bañadera, Dioneda, Limiac, Ordoñez

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