KIBUNGAN, Benguet – Concerned indigenous peoples (IPs) in barangay Badeo strongly condemned the alleged acts of obvious intimidation and harassment by officials of the Coheco Badeo Corporation in the conduct of the questionable special community assembly for its proposed 500-megawatt pump storage project recently.
Sources, who request anonymity for fear of reprisal from the project proponent, claimed that aside from the legal issues that remain unresolved by the regional and central offices of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the premature conduct of the special assembly brought fear and intimidation among the IPs because the project proponent brought with them 7 policemen and a legal team composed of 2 full-pledged lawyers and 3 legal assistants who are law graduates themselves.
“We consider the presence of the policemen as an indirect intimidation and harassment for us not to continue asserting our rights during the assembly but we will not stop there because he have some other available remedies to put a stop on the expected ravage to be done by the company in our domain and the environment which we do not want to happen to us in the first place,” the sources stressed.
The concerned IPs also claimed allowing the company to present the benefits of the project which its officers will actually not be the ones to pay because of the alleged impending sale of the company to interested foreign and local energy corporations is tantamount to bribery and to hide the fact that the present officers of the firm are being used to convince the IPs to give their consent and in the end, the IPs will be the ones to suffer the consequences of the project.
According to them, the conduct of the special assembly is premature because the NCIP did not yet actually resolve the pending legal issues that were filed by their fellow IPs from the replace raising some legal matters that have to be addressed, thus, the conduct of the said gathering is considered to be null and void and whatever results that were generated will simply be a mere scrap pf paper.
The sources expressed doubt on why the Coheco Badeo Corporation is rushing to get their consent when things have yet to be put in place which clearly shows that the present owners of the company will not be the ones to implement the project as they are only after their alleged share from the supposed developer’s fee which will be a product of the company’s impending sale to a corporation in waiting.
The sources argued that the multi-million benefits that were promised the IPs during the special assembly are considered to still be in the air because there is no actual guarantee that it will be the present owners of the company that will be paying such obligations but the burden will be on the future owners after the impending sale, thus, they could simply make promising commitments with a guarantee of being fulfilled but what is important to them is for them to be able to already partake of their share of the developer’s fee for their own aggrandizement.
The IPs claimed that the quest for truth and justice for the people of Badeo and Kibungan is not yet over that is why they will not lose hope in getting the attention of independent offices on the matter for them to be accorded a fair decision unlike the present ones that are allegedly railroaded.