Badeo villagers adamant on hydro project

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KIBUGAN, Benguet  – Concerned villagers and land owners strongly reiterated their reservations against the proposed 500-megawatt pump storage hydro project of the COHECO Badeo Corporation in barangay Badeo for fear that the Korean businessman who serves as the chairman of the company will again sell their consent and the resources of their place to a firm not of their choice after being able to secure their free and prior informed consent for the project.

Some alarmed land owners, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal and for security reasons, alleged that Howon Kim alias Larry, who is serving as chairman of the board of both COHECO Badeo Corporation and the Cordillera Hydroelectric Power Corporation (COHECO) which plans to put up a 60-megawatt hydro power project in Kapangan and Kibungan might again sell to another company the COHECO Badeo Corporation like what he did to COHECO.

“We do not want foreign investors to come to our place, convince us to give our consent for an ambitious hydropower project and then eventually sell the company to a company which is not of our choice, which may not honor commitments made by the original investor. We know what happened to the legitimate COHECO Company which was sold to a Filipino-owned company without our consent. Luckily, the Filipino-owned company that bought the shares of Mr. Kim from COHECO is a responsible one,”the source stressed.

The source narrated that Mr. Kim allegedly fully owned COHECO and the listed co-owners of the corporation were reportedly his supposed dummies.

The source reported that Mr. Kim allegedly sold COHECO to Fountel, a Filipino-owned company, after COHECO secured all the pertinent permits and consent of the affected indigenous peoples for the 60-megawatt hydro project. The source claimed Mr. Kim was allegedly able to sell COHECO to Fountel to the tune of more than P1.2 billion, including more than P300 million of alleged unimaginable reimbursements.

According to the source, if Mr. Kim was able to sell COHECO to another company, then it will also be likely that he will do the same to COHECO Badeo Corporation without the consent of the affected indigenous peoples and indigenous cultural communities who should be first consulted in such cases because the company which will purchase the firm might not be accepted by the domain owners in the future.

The source claims Mr. Kim did he not even leave a small percentage of the purchase price of COHECO for his corporate social responsibility for community development projects in their respective places while awaiting the construction and eventual operation of the hydropower plant.

The source claimed he was constrained to expose what happened to COHECO because he does not want that the same scenario to also happen to COHECO Badeo which would mean that the Korean businessman will be the one to gain from the consent of the indigenous peoples and the resources of the place. Herald Express tried to get in touch with Mr. Kim through Paul Bagano, COHECO Badeo Corporation chief executive officer, but no response was received from him on the matter. HENT

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