Central Luzon Aetas, peasants urged to defy National Greening Program
Members of the Rebolusyonaryong Organisasyong Ayta (ROA) and the Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Magbubukid (PKM) called on their fellow minority Aetas and peasants to fight the implementation of the anti-people National Greening Program (NGP) in their areas.
Exposing the program, the ROA and PKM encouraged the Aetas and peasants of West Central Luzon to stop the entry of DENR in their lands and take action against the NGP. They further called to remove, cut and take down trees under the NGP which are non-beneficial to the people.
The Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army in West Central Luzon also issued a statement of support. They pledged to stand along the Aetas in reclaiming farmlands grabbed by the NGP and collectively till the land for food and consumption.
The NGP is a program for planting commercial trees such as mahogany and gmelina, as well as other marketable products such as coffee, cacao, and bamboo, from which contractors profit. It is being undertaken by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The NGP has a proposed budget of about P5.15 billion for 2021.
The NGP is being used to lure the minority people, settlers and farmers with promises of cash, in exchange for the commercial use of their land for profit.
The NGP is being used as pretext for the setting up of military encampment and conducting combat operations in Aeta communities. State agents are utilized to harass the peasant masses and force them to give in to the interests of the NGP.
In a case study published by Ang Bayan in February 2016, a 300-hectare land was converted to a gmelina plantation covering barangays of Magsaysay, Campamento, San Pascual and Dumanise of Diffun town in Quirino. These lands were former cornfields and were categorized as a “reforestation” area by the DENR in 1997.
In Isabela, beneficiaries of the 4Ps program were forced to participate in the NGP in Barangay Disulap, San Mariano. The government aid was dangled to gain free labor while companies rake in profits.
The NGP also covered a 100-hectare land of the Agta and Ifugao minorities in Barangay San Jose and Casala. Military operations were conducted in the area while agents of the DENR surveyed the land in 2014.