Apayao citizens’ group say Gened-1 renewable hydro project is key to sustainable post-pandemic recovery

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KABUGAO, Apayao – A local group of citizens in Apayao have lauded the proposed renewable hydro power project in the province and the extensive packages offered to augment the recovery and stimulate the Apayao economy in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis.

Abante Apayao, a multi-sectoral group advocating for progress and development in Apayao province, believe that the Gened-1 Renewable Hydropower project will create opportunities for Apayao to rebuild with projects that address the needs of both society and the environment amidst the challenges of the ongoing pandemic.

More importantly, the project is seen to provide benefits to its people, specifically the Isnag and Tawit indigenous peoples (IPs) in Kabugao and Pudtol municipalities where the project will be built.

The Gened-1 Renewable Hydropower project harnesses the potential of the rivers of Apayao to generate clean renewable energy.

“Of the many infrastructure projects we see locating in our province, we believe this renewable hydro power project will sustainably transform Apayao into one of the fastest-growing provinces in Luzon,” Dr. Johannah Caddawan, spokesperson for Abante Apayao, said.

Dr. Caddawan said Apayao will be doing its part in helping power not only the province but the whole of Luzon, as the country transitions from fossil fuels to renewable sources in generating reliable and affordable power.

The 150-megawatt (MW) Gened-1 Hydro Power Project is spending P5.013 billion in monetary and non-monetary benefits to the IPs and the local government.

“We have seen the project proposal and we strongly believe that the social packages presented — from housing, to electricity, livelihood and employment, education, health and medical assistance — will improve the quality of life for the affected communities from their pre-project situation,” Dr. Caddawan added.

The hydro power project benefits outlined for the province and its people include:
* Monetary package such as royalty share for ancestral domains, medical and educational assistance, and compensation of homes
and agricultural lands for IP families and farmers affected by the project.
* Non-monetary where the IPs will get free 2-MW clean and renewable energy yearly from the project. An electric cooperative will be formed to distribute the electricity to homes.
* Both the power plant and the electric cooperative will provide stable electricity for Y’Apayaos, addressing their long-standing problem of a 6-hour daily rotating brownouts in the province.

The people of Apayao will also benefit from the facilities and services that will address both the needs of society and the environment. These include: building of a new school, hospital, training centers, library, farm to market roads, scholarships programs, direct and indirect employment, livelihood and enterprise development programs, and environmental conservation efforts, among others.

All local government units (LGUs) from the provincial, municipal and barangay-level will also get a boost from the hydro power plant through a revenue sharing provision, real property taxes and contributions mandated by the Department of Energy through ER 1-94 which will provide for the electrification efforts in the province.
“We applaud the proponent Pan Pacific Renewable Power Philippine Corp. for offering these packages for all of us in Apayao. We believe this is something that will benefit not only our generation but, more importantly, the future generations. This project will put us on the map as a location of the future, where businesses would thrive,” said Wayne Jerome Rigos, who is also a spokesperson for Abante Apayao.

“With all these grants from the hydro power project, we believe no one will be left behind as we push forward for a better Apayao,” he added.

The 150MW Gened-1 Renewable Hydropower project went through a 6-year Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) process back and forth with the Isnags and Tawit IPs since 2015. The FPIC Process was validated and confirmed by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) CAR and the FPIC Team. The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for Pudtol was signed on January 15, 2021 while the MOA of Kabugao was signed on April 20, 2021.

Other projects in the pipeline for the province include 3 more renewable hydropower plants namely Gened-2 (335 MW), Aoan (191 MW) and Calanasan (170 MW). These new renewable hydropower projects are part of the government’s Renewable Energy Roadmap to address the increasing power supply requirements of the country in the next 5 years.

Powered by these renewable energy projects in the pipeline, Apayao is also seen to develop new industries like technology-based industries, eco-tourism, agro farming, fisheries, cut-flower industries, coffee, corn, rice processing, livestock farming, meat processing, and many others. There is a planned economic zone in Kabugao that will allow more investors to the province.

Members of Abante Apayao said the project is seen to empower Apayao and its people, which is well within their mandate to push for the most beneficial and best interests of its people, and “to make sure both our society and environment thrive and share the benefits of our growth strategy for the whole province.”