THE Aetas living outside the Clark freeport zone are supposed to receive P19.64 million for the government’s use of part of their ancestral land but because of a quirky deal struck by another group 12 years ago, they stand to get less than half of that sum.
In the 2019 audit of the Clark Development Corporation (CDC), government auditors said the cost of 13 brand new vehicles given to the Bamban Aeta Tribal Association (BATA) in 2008 totaling P8.83 million, together with P2.6 million in allowances, cash advances and other expenses incurred between 2008 to 2011 should be deducted from the P19.64 million payable amount.
This even if according to the en banc resolution of the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) in 2018, it is the Sangguniang Tribong Aeta which is the “sole and recognized representative” of the Aeta people in all transactions pertaining to the tripartite Joint Management Agreement (JMA) signed in 2007 between the CDC, tribal leaders, and the NCIP.
By CDC’s own records, the 20 percent share of the Aetas from the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) RO3-BAM-1104-025 stood at P19,641,332 as of December 31, 2019.
The sum is listed in its books as “Other Payables-JMA (joint management agreement),” which is an acknowledgement that the “CDC has yet to settle the 20 percent share of Tribong Aeta because of several procedures that have not been satisfied including the crafting of the Implementing Rules and Regulations on the determination of the net income, the disposition of the Aeta Development Fund, formation of the Aeta Development Committee composed of tribe members, and the opening of an official bank account under the tribe’s name.”
Auditors demanded an explanation from the CDC why these procedures have not been completed. In reply, the CDC said it has communicated with the Sangguniang Tribong Aeta in a letter sent January 16, 2020 to comply but has not received any response.
On the other hand, the CDC’s books likewise showed an uncollected sum of P11,487,930 that supposedly paid for the 13 vehicles given to BATA, and cash allowances released to 12 chieftains, group officers and even a commissioner of the NCIP from 2008 to 2011.
The list showed the vehicles were 1 Mitsubishi Adventure and 12 Mitsubishi L-300.
The COA said since BATA agreed that the cost of the said vehicles as well as the cash allowances shall be considered as advance payment by CDC deductible from the 20 percent Aeta share, the CDC cannot pay the entire P19.64 million to Sangguniang Tribong Aeta.
According to the Commission, this is meant to protect the interest of the CDC and the government as a whole.