The APECO (Aurora Pacific Ecozone and Freeport) zone, located in Casiguran, Aurora Island, was established by the Philippine government in 2007, through the creation of a tailored law, known as the APECO Act of 2007, with the aim to establish a special economic zone based on public-private partnerships and to attract vast foreign investment thanks to tax incentives. As the law states, “the Aurora Ecozone shall be developed into and operated as a decentralized, self-reliant and self-sustaining industrial, commercial/trading, agro-industrial, tourist, banking, financial and investment center with suitable residential areas.” . APECO was created by the political elite of the Angara dynasty; Senator Edgardo Angara; his son congressman, later on senator, Sonny Angara; and his sister congresswoman, later on governor, Bellaflor Angara . Promoted by the government under a strong pro-poor rhetoric, the project should provide the area with numerous local jobs thus strongly incentivizing local and national development [2;1].
The large majority of the local population, however, is much better off without the project and rather sees in the APECO zone a major land grab and a central threat to their lives and to the environment, as well as the end of their indigenous culture and identity [2;3;4;5]. APECO was established without prior consultation of the town major and local governmental units (LGU); without prior consultation of the people of Casiguran, and moreover, large parts of the 12,923ha concession area are located on ancestral lands of the Agta Dumagats indigenous. The concession was granted without their Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) [2;3], thus not complying with the Indigenous People’s Rights Act of 1997. The APECO law was passed without a complete feasibility study and without consultation of affected communities . Corruption during implementation and compensation processes has been evidenced . Farmers who hold lease titles for years, fear that they will not be renewed anymore [3;4]. Mangroves have already been cleared and several hundred fisher families were evicted to make place for the coastal airport [3;4]. No less than 3000 families fear further displacement through the zone development . Indigenous people would lose their ancestral lands, and with this, not only their livelihood source, but also their cultural identity .
There has been strong opposition by local groups, who organized public campaigns  and a 350km long protest march to oppose the project . Local networks, such as the Anti APECO Task Force and the Resist APECO! Defend Aurora! Movement were establishment, which filed, with support of other NGOs, a petition to the Supreme Court to declare the APECO law unconstitutional and to obtain a temporary restraining order (TRO). The TRO was however not achieved, while, as of October 2014 , the resolution of the petition is still pending. Meanwhile, APECO opponents faced heavy repression, including death threats and attacks by gunmen  and grenades . On the other hand, development of the APECO zone, funded with public money, has moved forward.