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March 21, 2018, Pidpid, Porac, Pampanga, the Philippines – Adrian Dominican Sisters from the Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter, based in Pampanga, the Philippines, stood in solidarity recently with indigenous peoples whose land has been taken from them for development.
The Sisters in the Remedies Mission Chapter, along with local Benedictine Sisters “are in the front line of support” for the united indigenous peoples, who have barricaded with rocks the road where trucks haul gravel and sand for development projects on the tribe’s ancestral land, said Sister Zenaida Nacpil, OP, Chapter Prioress.
Since January 30, the Aetas have established themselves in the barricaded area, putting up temporary grass huts to shield themselves from the heat, Sister Zenaida said. They have also set up an ongoing school at the barricade, indicating their intention to stay in the barricaded area as long as possible.
The indigenous Aeta Mag-indi and Aeta Mag-antsi tribes established their home in 1960 in the barrio (town) Camachilies. They were displaced in June 1991 with the eruption of Mount Pinatubo and have since resettled in the nearby Pidpid area. “They no longer want to be thrown out by another disaster, which is now man-made and which is much more disastrous than the eruption of Mount Pinatubo,” Sister Zenaida said.
She noted that in 2006 the Aetas received a Certificate of Ancestral Domain title from the government of the Philippines, giving them title to 18,659.73 hectares (72.046 square miles) of land. But in 2009, because of development projects, the land was taken from them by local and foreign corporations that have established quarry operations there. This work has destroyed the natural habitat, leaving the Aeta’s water source polluted.
“A huge portion of this ancestral domain is being destroyed by these operators through quarrying and water pollution,” Sister Zenaida said. “While [these corporations] get millions in profits, the indigenous peoples are left with nothing except the destroyed natural environment.”
So far, she added, foreign and two Filipino-owned quarry operations have temporarily stopped their work, and the military have not been involved. “We pray that the quarry operations will be stopped completely.”
Watch a video from the barricaded area.