It’s official: Pinatubo is now owned by Aetas

Source: 
By Tonette Orejas, Philippine Daily Inquirer
Date of publication: 
26 November, 2009

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines—Mt. Pinatubo, including the three-kilometer wide crater lake left by its 1991 eruptions, is now officially lutan tua (ancestral land) of Aetas in Botolan, Zambales.

Carlito Domulot, chair of the Lubos ng Alyansa ng mga Katutubong Ayta sa Sambales (Lakas), shared this piece of information with the Inquirer on Thursday as he received confirmation from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) that at least 15,998 hectares have been registered at the Registry of Deeds in Zambales as a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT).

NCIP Commissioner Rolando Rivera confirmed Domulot’s information, saying CADT RO3-BOT-0708-073 indeed includes the volcano.

“Their CADT really covers Mt. Pinatubo,” Rivera said in a telephone interview.

He said a CADT registered with the Registry of Deeds “perfected the tribe’s ownership and stewardship of their ancestral domain.”

Registered on Oct. 3 and issued on Nov. 9, the CADT is entered as Original Certificate of Title No. CAD-0-1.

The application originally covers 20,567.89 hectares. The size was reduced to 15,998.4748 hectares after government agencies recognized and segregated private titles within ancestral domains.

The final CADT spans the villages of Burgos, Villar, Moraza and Belbel in Botolan and portions of the towns of Cabangan, San Felipe and San Marcelino, the title showed.

Domulot said the volcano straddles Villar and Belbel.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) refers to Mt. Pinatubo and its environs as located in the tri-boundary of Zambales, Tarlac and Pampanga. The volcano’s crater lake and lahar canyons have drawn local and foreign tourists.

“Before the CADT came, we, Aetas of Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales, have an understanding that Pinatubo is on the Botolan (Zambales) side and the lands there belong to us, Botolan Aetas,” Domulot said.

Helping Aetas protect their domain from Korean and other foreign and local business ventures, the Botolan council issued in August 2008 a resolution recognizing the ownership and management of Botolan Aetas over Mt. Pinatubo.

Although vigilant against Korean firms on the Tarlac side, the Aetas have not built gates or watchtowers to ward off illegal settlers.

The Aetas returned to the volcano about five years after the eruptions to cultivate lands there.

Although the lands were made fertile by volcanic materials, Domulot said the lack of farming and fishing tools make it difficult for the tribe to grow more cash crops.

“Our elders have been fighting for our lands since the time of [the late former President Ferdinand] Marcos,” he said.

Rivera said the NCIP had registered at least four CADTs covering 25,615 hectares in Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales and Aurora.

Pending registration are CADTs for Dumagats in Karahume, San Jose
del Monte City in Bulacan (1,817 hectares) and for Kalanguyas in Carranglan, Nueva Ecija (25,373 hectares).

NCIP records showed there are still 11 pending applications for CADTs over 247,261.19 hectares in Central Luzon.