Please refer to O’lola Z. Olib
Tel: 788-0238/ 09206419009/ 09197628398
Hundreds of Aeta families, dumpsite residents
Under threat of toxic contamination
On the eve of Fil-American Friendship Day, the People’s Task Force for Bases Cleanup visited hundreds of Aeta families living in the midst of toxic contamination beyond the perimeter fence of Clark Air Base.
Marivic Balatbat, 27, married with four children, suffers from severe respiratory system disorder like many others. The Indigenous People said, they have not yet been visited by a doctor ever since they lived there in 1994. In this community now called Target, an average of four families live in each of the 88 huts built by returning Aetas in the area.
“The Aeta’s return to Target valley is ironic. They chose to go back to this valley for the freedom to lead their traditional way of life. All of them are in danger of developing diseases from toxic contamination. They do not know it yet. They deserve to know what poisons the American soldiers left here”, said O’lola Zamora Olib, PTFBC Executive Director.
“This area has never been investigated thoroughly by scientists and health researchers. This is one of the many sites which the American military has poisoned and for which they should be responsible for cleanup.”
“The government should seriously reconsider the resettlement of Aetas to prevent further damage to their health. There is also a need to investigate the quality of water drawn from shallow wells as they complain of frequent diarrhea among children and adults,” she added.
During the heyday of the US Bases, American soldiers practiced target shooting in these hills using the cliff walls facing the valley as targets. Similar to the Firing Range in Kinabuksan of Subic Naval Base, people have not been informed of the pollutants released by the US soldiers.
Unexploded ordnance were indiscriminately strewn in the area. After the practice firing, Aetas would scramble for ammunition shells to sell as scrap metals. Their income selling the shells would supplement their earnings from selling cassava, banana and other forest crops to lowlanders.
After the Pinatubo eruption, this group of Aetas were relocated in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija, where they suffered the hardship and humiliation of being corralled and prevented from living their traditional way of life. They chose to return to the hills in the Target area. Unknown to them, they are living in the middle of a highly toxic environment.
Likewise in Purok 1, Libas, New Cabalan, Olongapo City, people continue to suffer various ailments. Manuel Luis Romero, 12, epilepsy; Maricel Cartas, 20, heart disease; Virginia Galindez, 41, goiter and Melanie de Guzman, 23, skin disease are among the many victims documented by PTFBC.
Libas is a mountain community located between two dumpsites where water flowing from the mountain smell lecheate.
Residents in similarly contaminated areas suffer from serious respiratory ailments, various cancers including leukemia, malnutrition, cardio-vascular and nervous system disorders and poor mental development among children. ###
The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip in 2002