SUBIC BAY FREEPORT - The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) achieved another milestone in improving the lives of the indigenous Ayta tribesmen in this free port when it handed over to tribal leaders on Monday millions of pesos representing payment for the use of the Ayta ancestral land here.
SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia handed over the check in the amount of P14,791,440.00 to Conrado Frenilla, chieftain of the Pastolan Aytas here, in the presence of other tribal elders, as well as representatives of the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) headed by Regional Director Salong Sunggod.
The check represents the share of the Ayta Ambala tribe of the village of Pastolan in the lease rentals of business companies located within the Ayta ancestral domain from May 2009 to December 2013.
"This day is historical for the SBMA," Garcia said during the turnover held after last Monday's flag-raising ceremony. "At last we have fulfilled one of the major commitments of the agency for our Ayta brethren under an agreement that we have signed with them," he added.
The Ayta Ambala tribe holds a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) representing ownership of the more than 4,280 hectares of land covering the Kalayaan and the Binictican housing areas in this free port, as well as the tourism areas of Apaliin, Pamulaklakin, and El Kabayo, among others.
The joint management agreement (JMA) between the SBMA and the Ayta tribe authorizes the Subic agency to undertake systematic management and development of parts of the ancestral land to help uplift the economic, cultural and social life of the tribe based on the programs implemented by the government.
Under the JMA, the Pastolan Aytas will collect 5% of the gross income paid by the investors for rent of the land starting May 12, 2009, when the CADT was registered. In addition, each Aeta family will receive P20,000 a year.
Other benefits include hiring of qualified Aeta workers; implementation of community development assistance programs; construction of schoolrooms for high school, and the hiring of four teachers; establishment of a community clinic with detailed medical personnel from the SBMA Public Health and Safety Department; and an annual donation of P100,000 each for village fiesta and Christmas celebrations.
In receiving the SBMA allocation, Frenilla said that they will use the fund to develop their community, improve the Pamulaklakin tourist facility, and send qualified and deserving students to colleges.
"Malaking bagay talaga ang itinutulong sa amin ng SBMA. Tulad ngayon, mapag-aaral na namin ang mga kabataang Ayta sa kolehiyo para lalo pang mapaunlad ang kanilang buhay," said Frenilla.
He added that a small amount of the fund will also be used for a modest celebration in order for all tribe members to really feel the benefits from the SBMA.
Frenilla also noted that community members who initially objected to the JMA are now returning to the village after seeing the improvements in their community since the JMA was signed.
NCIP's Dir. Sunggod said, for his part, that this was the first time in the country that an indigenous people's group received a share of payment for the use by investors of their ancestral land.
"Ito ang unang-unang pangyayari sa ating bansa na hindi lamang kinilala ang karapatan ng mga katutubo sa kanilang lupang ninuno, kundi ibinigay pa sa kanila ang karampatang pakinabang," Sunggod said.
He added that the SBMA could be a model for other agencies in the country in terms of providing assistance and undertaking developments to improve the lives of indigenous people. (30)
Members of the Ayta Ambala tribe in the Subic Bay Freeport join SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia and Chieftain Conrado Frenilla, along with SBMA Public Relations manager Armie Armas and other employees, in displaying a symbolic check representing payment for the use of Ayta ancestral lands in the Subic Bay Freeport.