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Angara belies Osmeña's assertions vs APECO

Sen. Edgardo Angara on Tuesday denied Sen. Sergio Osmeña III’s "wild allegations" that the government is wasting money on the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone (APECO), which he said is not attracting investors into the province as it has poor location.   "I would like to invite Mr. Vicious to come and visit Aurora so that he doesn't make these wild allegations,” said Angara, who co-sponsored Republic Act No. 10083, the law that created APECO, with his son Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara.   Rep. Angara and Aurora Governor Bellaflor Angara-Castillo, the senator's sister, sit on the APECO board.   “We'll invite him so that he will see the actual developments… so that he'll stop saying that APECO is for the Angaras," said the elder Angara.   He went as far as saying that Osmeña’s allegation “is a lie.” He also said Osmeña is “very fond of lecturing from the chair.”   Zero budget   Osmeña earlier in the day said he will push for a zero budget for APECO, a 12,000-hectare economic zone in Aurora, in 2013 because it has no chance of succeeding as an economic zone.   But Angara said Osmeña says this every year and Congress always rejects it because "not everyone can be fooled."   He said lawmakers are fully aware that APECO will definitely make money because it is a zone that has the best location in the country.   "With the APECO, in effect you are unlocking the potential of one million hectares of land," Angara said.   Osmeña said the location of APECO was not good for business since it is on the typhoon belt and is far from other destinations.   Gateway to the Pacific   Angara, however, said that APECO will provide a gateway to the Pacific and will open up an alternate route for the residents of Cagayan Valley.   He also said PAGASA gave him a record of the weather disturbances that have hit Aurora and Metro Manila in the last five years and it turns out that 16 had directly hit Metro Manila while only six hit Aurora.   Angara noted that the only reason they seem to be always mentioned in weather bulletins was because PAGASA's central weather forecasting center is in Baler.   "We are just used as a reference point. So that kind of ignorance that Osmeña is saying should already stop," he said.   "He should not believe everything that he reads because most of them are coming from his office and we can prove that," he added.   He also explained that they are the only ones who use the newly constructed airstrip there because it is not open yet to the public.   Indigenous peoples   Angara also denied that the establishment of APECO displaced indigenous people in the area. He said that they built resettlement houses for owners who sold their lands to APECO.   "In other words they already got back their money's worth, and yet we give them a brand new house plus a guaranteed employment," Angara said.   He added that by January 2013, 500 people will be provided jobs by APECO.   Despite his family’s links to APECO, Angara said their critics must not use the political dynasty argument against them because his relatives got their positions on their own merit.   He also said that under the law, the province's governor and congressman would sit on the APECO board.   "It's under the law. Let's change the law if they don’t want that.  It's the same for other trade zones," he said. — Kimberly Jane Tan/KBK, GMA News