ZAMBALES, Philippines – The Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) defended the 7-day eviction notice it sent to Aeta families to give way to the New Clark City development project in Capas, Tarlac, saying it was a "standard follow-up" to notices issued to affected communities in the past.
A copy of the letter went viral earlier this week, asking the indigenous families to leave their farmlands and settlement areas.
"Nais po naming ipabatid sa inyo na ang lupain na kasalukuyang kinatitirikan ng inyong bahay/istruktura o sinasaka niyo sa Barangay Aranguren, Capas, Tarlac ay pagmamay-ari ng pamahalaan na nasa ilalim ng pangagasiwa ng [BCDA] ayon sa Batas Republika Bilang 7227," the BCDA notice said.
(We would like to inform you that the land where your house/structure stands or which you till in Barangay Aranguern, Capas, Tarlac, is government property, which the BCDA administers per Republic Act Number 7227.)
RA 7227 is the law that created the BCDA.
"Dahil po dito at bilang makataong pakikitungo, kayo po ay binibigyan ng pitong (7) araw na paglugit, simula sa araw ng pagkatanggap ng liham na ito, upang makipag-ugnayan sa aming opisina at isumete sa BCDA ang mga nararapat na dokumento at gayundin ay boluntaryo o kusang-loob na lisanin ang nasabing lugar at baklasin ang anumang istruktura na itinayo ninyo dito, kung meron man, upang magbigay daan sa gagawin at agarang pagpapatupad ng nasabing proyekto ng gobyerno," the BCDA added.
(Give this, and as a humane gesture, you are hereby given a grace period of 7 days from the date of receipt of this letter, to coordinate with our office and submit required documents to the BCDA as well as voluntarily leave the are and dismantle any structure you have built here, if any, to give way to the immediate implementation of the aforementioned government project.)
The New Clark City is a 200-hectare property being developed as an alternative government center. It is where a sports complex, currently being used for two sports events in the Southeast Asian Games, stands. (READ: BCDA, Malaysian firm ink questionable P11-billion SEA Games deal | OGCC flagged non-bidding of BCDA's New Clark sports facilities | How BCDA's multi-billion New Clark deal slipped through)
After the backlash online, the BCDA published a statement on its website on Thursday, December 5, saying, "The seven-day notice issued by the [BCDA] is a standard follow-up letter sent to all claimants who rejected the financial assistance offered by government."
The BCDA added: "There are no targeted Aeta communities. The notice was given to all claimants to inform of the need to start the construction of the New Clark City to Clark International Airport access road in that particular area."
The BCDA said a "financial assistance package amounting to P300,000 per hectare (or P30/sqm) has been made available by BCDA to all project-affected people, including indigenous peoples (IPs) and farmers even at the start of the development."
"Relocation sites have also been provided by BCDA within New Clark City for those whose residential structures were affected," it added. – Rappler.com