“We thank Gov. Abet for the land survey,” thus said Councilor Joel Abraham, the indigenous peoples’ mandatory representative to the Sangguniang Bayan of Dinalupihan.
The Aetas in the hinterland of Dinalupihan can no longer sell their ancestral domain to anyone to preserve their heritage and sacred place of abode. Although, it has been widely known that ancestral lands are not for sale under the law, Aetas are tempted to sell their lands “to taste some good things in life.”
The Sangguniang Bayan of Dinalupihan adopted in a resolution recently the national advisory of National Commission on Indigenous Peoples imposing penalty to any individual found guilty of selling off portions or parcels of ancestral domain in the said municipality.
So far, only Dinalupihan has adopted said national advisory.
Abraham initiated the adoption of said advisory of RA 8371 or “The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997” to put a stop to rampant selling of ancestral domains in Barangays Payangan, Bayan-bayanan, and Tubo-tubo. “Panahon na para mahinto ang bentahan ng lupa sa aming mga lupain na matagal na naming minana sa aming ninuno,” said Abraham.
He said a prime lot owned by natives briskly sells between P30,000 and P80,000 depending on location. “Kaya darating ang panahon wala na kaming titirahan dahil naibenta na lahat sa mga negosyante,” Abraham ruefully said.
Councilor Amy Muli-Sandoval, SB chair of committee on land use and environment, said that she could not imagine how could the natives lose their ancestral lands in exchange for a certain amount paid by some unscrupulous individuals. “We have to protect the rights of our constituents-the Aetas,” she pointed out.
So far, there are 18 existing Aeta communities in Bataan with a population of about 8,000. There are still about 5,000 hectares of forest lands occupied by the Aetas in Dinalupihan town alone.
The provincial government of Bataan had spent P1.2 million for the survey of the forest land being occupied by the Aetas in Dinalupihan which is being developed as agro-polis to become a food basket in Central Luzon. A farmland in the municipality was recently visited by Secretary William Dar of the Department of Agriculture.