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TABUK CITY, Kalinga – A tribal leader and barangay official revealed the proposed 52-megawatt mini-hydroelectric project along the Chico River was given the free and prior informed consent (FPIC) by the affected indigenous peoples (IPs).
Bagumbayan Punong Barangay Andrew Cos-agon said barangay officials always study which projects will be beneficial to the development of the standards of living and quality of life of their constituents that is why it is unfair for those opposed to the project to attack even their personal lives just because their opposition to the put up of the power plant was not given due course by their fellow IPs.
“We always put the interest of our constituents above our personal interests when deciding on issues that we believe will be instrumental in enhancing their living conditions. We want our constituents to have better lives compared to their life now,” Cos-agon stressed.
He underscored the renewable energy project is not a mega dam facility as claimed by some religious leaders and the opposition because it is a run-off-river hydro plant, one of the most acceptable types of power generation facilities because of its lesser impact to the state of the environment and the areas to be affected.
Cos-agon revealed the developer of the project, Karayan Inc., assured landowners that properties that will be affected by the project which is around 10 hectares will be rented out from the land owners for a lifetime based on the production of the properties.
He added he even went to the extent of offering his property in another area in exchange for the properties of the affected individuals just to show his sincerity that he does not want to compromise the status of the affected residents but they allegedly refused the said arrangement for still unknown reasons.
Cos-agon accused individuals and groups who are not event bonafide residents of the affected areas and members of the affected tribes of allegedly trying to influence and mislead the people into believing that the proposed hydro project will affect the sources of livelihood of the people and their displacement from their ancestral domain, saying that the project will bring added benefits to the IPs in the form of scholarships to the deserving residents, health and livelihood benefits, infrastructure development, among others.
From its previous dimension of a height of 35 meters and 80 meters long, he disclosed the weir of the project was reduced to only 25 meters and around 180 meters long which is located within the jurisdiction of Lucog.
Cos-agon called on concerned sectors in the city to respect the decision of the IPs in giving their consent for the project and for the opposition not to misinform the people of the actual benefits of the project which could be instrumental in significantly improving their standards of living and quality of life for the present and future generations.
Based on the survey of the affected properties, he noted there will two tombs that could be affected which could be transferred at the expense of the developer while there are only a few farms that will be submerged which will also be rented from the land owners for a lifetime.