“Hindi kaunlaran ng nakararami. Kaunlaran lang ng iilan.”
This is what Marlon Angara, a fisherfolk from Casiguran, said when asked about what he thinks of Aurora Pacific Economic Zone or APECO. He is one of the locals who are at risk of losing their land and livelihood to give way for the construction of a development project that is APECO.
APECO will cover 12,923 hectares of lands in Casiguran, Aurora. The development project promises to boost tourism, employment rate and the economy of the municipality as well as its neighboring areas. However, after about seven years, there are still no observable operations happening in the area; given the fact that the government has already allocated more than P2 billion of the precious taxpayers’ money to APECO.
Parts of APECO’s land coverage are agricultural lands and ancestral lands of the Agta Dumagat tribe. The inhabitants of the land who are the farmers, fisherfolks and the Agta Dumagats would have to face the possibility of being evicted from what they call their home and be deprived of their livelihood means. For the locals who will be affected, the possibility of being evicted is more than just the issue of being displaced; they treat their lands as their life.
This story just shows how much one can do in the name of development. Perhaps, the APECO administration and the anti-APECO movement have concepts of development that are two poles apart.
Get to hear more voices of the people of Casiguran through this video documentary produced by St. Scholastica’s College students entitled Sa Ngalan ng Kaunlaran: