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Indigenous People and the Law

Cruz, Francisco, Noel, Reyes

The Question of Primacy: Economic Development v. Social Rights in the Face
of the Displacement of Aetas in Clark Special Economic Zones and Freeports.

I. Introduction
A. Background
Sacobia Valley is a vast land comprising approximately of five thousand seven hundred
twenty four (5,724) hectares covering the municipalities of Bamban, Tarlac and Mabalacat,
Pampanga. It serves as the border between the provinces of Pampanga and Tarlac. Sacobia is
part of the former Clark Air Base Military Reservation which reverted to the Philippines back in
The valley is inhabited by the Mag-Aantsi Aetas, an indigenous community.

In March of 1992, under the administration of Corazon Aquino, Republic Act No. 7227, or
the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992, was passed creating the Bases Conversion
Development Authority (BCDA) which is tasked primarily to oversee the conversion and
development of the Clark and Subic military reservations and lands covered under the 1947
Military Bases Agreement between the Philippines and the United States of America.
Economic Zones, mainly for industry and tourism, were also created. Section 15 of the BCDA

EO 344
Mathilde Baker
RA 7227
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SECTION 15. Clark and Other Special Economic Zones. the President is hereby
authorized to create by executive proclamation a Special Economic Zone covering the lands occupied
by the Clark military reservations and its contiguous extensions as embraced, covered and defined by
the 1947 Military Bases Agreement between the Philippines and the United States of America, as
(note: I quoted this baka mai-relate natin dun sa eminent domain issue)
By virtue of such authority, President Fidel V. Ramos, via a presidential proclamation,
created the Clark Special Economic Zone (CSEZ).
Thereafter, the Clark Development
Corporation (CDC) was established as the implementing and operating arm of the BCDA to
manage the CSEZ.
Proclamation No. 805 formally included Sacobia in the CSEZ, to wit:
FIDEL V. RAMOS, President of the Republic of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers
vested in me by law and the sovereign will of the people, do hereby include in the Clark Special
Economic Zone the five thousand seven hundred twenty four (5,724) hectare portion located in the
municipalities of Mabalacat, Pampanga and Bamban, Tarlac, more commonly known as Sacobia
Further, vested rights and valid ancestral domain claims within the Sacobia area as verified and
validated by the DENR and other pertinent government agencies shall be respected.
(Note: I found
this, meron din syang provision about vested rights and stuff)
Accordingly, Executive Order No. 344 (1996) transferred the powers and functions of the
then existing Sacobia Development Authority (SDA) to the CDC.
Hence, at the present, CDC
has the exclusive authority and jurisdiction over Sacobia. In relation to this, Section 7 of E. O.
No. 344 also empowers the CDC to transfer and resettle Sacobia communities, in this wise:
Section 7. Settlement and Re-settlement of Sacobia Communities- Subject to existing legal
rights and valid ancestral domain claims within the Sacobia area, as verified and validated by the

Procalamation No. 163, 1993
EO No. 80, 1993
Proclamation No. 805
EO 344, 1996
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Department of Environment and Natural Resources, communities and permanent residents of Sacobia
may be transferred and resettled by the CDC, at the expense of the BCDA, to give way to development
projects in the area.

In 1997, Republic Act No. 8371, or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), was
enacted. IPRA aims to provide full protection and recognition of the rights pertaining to
Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous Cultural Communities (IPs/ICCs). Among its salient
provisions is the establishment of a procedure for the recognition and titling of ancestral lands
and domains. It therefor gave IPs and ICCs an opportunity to protect their lands.
Pursuant to such law, IPs/ICCs in the Sacobia Valley as represented by Indigenous Peoples
Organizations (IPOs) such as Mabalacat Aeta Tribal Association (MATA) and Bamban Aeta
Tribal Association (BATA) were granted Certificate of Ancestral Domains Title (CADTs)
covering a total of 10, 684 hectares in 2009.
It is important to note, however, that even before
the passage of IPRA there were already many attempts for the recognition of the Ancestral
Domains. In 1998, a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claims (CADC) covering 5,515 hectares
inside Clark Field was issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to

Despite the passage of IPRA and the issuance of the CADTs, the rights of many Aetas in
the Sacobia community were still subjected to violations. Many were displaced and relocated due
mainly to development projects undertaken by the CDC, which usually involve partnerships and
agreements with foreign firms.

EO 344, 1996
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Due to the resulting displacement, some of Aetas were forced to live in
compartmentalized houses provided by Gawad Kalinga (GK). These houses do not provide
sufficient space for carabaos, pigs and poultry as usually is the case in a traditional Aeta home.

Such fact results to an impingement of the rights of the Aetas because there is failure to take into
account the cultural integrity of these Indigenous Peoples.
B. Scope
1) This paper would like to make a case study on how IPRA has been applied in the context of
Aetas relocated and displaced pursuant to laws like Bases Conversion and Development Act
of 1992 and those relating to the creation of special economic zones.

2) This paper would focus on IPRA, Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992 and other
related laws and orders which led to the current Clark Special Enonomic Zone and Freeport.

3) This paper would focus on the activities of the government, through the Bases Conversion
Development Authority, particularly the CDC, which led to displacement of Aetas not due to
natural occurences or disasters.

C. Objectives

1) This paper seeks to identify problematic provisions of relevant laws which results in conflict
with other statutes, primarily focusing on IPRA and the Bases Conversion and Development
Act of 1992 along with the related laws and orders, and propose amendments thereof.

Sitio Target
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2) This paper further seeks to create a framework that would balance the interests of IPs/ICCs
and national development pursued by the government.

D. Methodology

1) The proponents will study the historical context of Aetas in Sacobia Valley and the Clark
Special Economic Zone (CSEZ) and Clark Freeport.

2) The proponents will also go through and survey related local case law.

3) In addition, the proponents will research primary and secodary laws related to IPRA and the
Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992.

4) The proponents will conduct interviews.

5) The proponents may also survey analogical international jurisprudence and law.