KIBUNGAN, Benguet – The Cordillera office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP-CAR) disclosed that the cease and desist order (CDO) it issued against the Coheco Badeo Corporation preventing the company from proceeding with its free and prior informed consent (FPIC) activities for its 500-megawatt pump storage project in barangay Badeo still exists, thus, any FPIC-related activities being done by the company is prohibited to date.
NCIP-CAR regional director Roland P. Calde stated the company was able to comply with an order requiring it to submit its proposal on the economic activities for the indigenous peoples and the host communities but the same is still subject to review by the FPIC team.
“The FPIC team is required to schedule a special community consultative assembly in barangay Badeo for the company to be able to explain to the affected indigenous peoples the benefits that they could derive from the project because the company failed to provide the community with vital information that will guide them in deciding whether or not they will support the hydro project,” Calde stressed.
The NCIP-CAR official underscored the company has to effectively and efficiently address the numerous complaints of the affected IPs of Badeo regarding the alleged railroaded community consultative assembly several months ago that is why the best remedy to the problem that was created is for the FPIC team and the proponent to go back to the community and answer the issues that cropped up to prevent further complications of the project in the future.
According to him, the realization of the project will still go a long way because of the numerous issues that have cropped up during the controversial community consultative assemblies that were done in the different barangays and that there will be no stability in the area while there are still IPs that will be complaining on the alleged failure of the company to address the problems that were raised.
Calde explained the reason why the FPIC team and the company is required to go back to Badeo for a special community consultative assembly is to once and for all put an end to the continuing complaints of the affected IPs that there was the alleged maneuverings and manipulations that were done to exclude some of those who are vocal against the project during the consensus building process.
Earlier, concerned IP leaders from various sitios of Badeo complained that the company officials, who were allegedly in cahoots with some officials of the FPIC team, worked out their exclusion from those who will compose the council of elders who will decide the fate of the ambitious project because they were vocal against the serious negative effects of the hydro project, especially to the overall status of their ancestral domain and the environment as well as their sources of livelihood. Calde asserted the IPs who are against the project are persistent in imposing their rights to be consulted that is why it is very important for the FPIC team to be circumspect in dealing with the situation considering that the provisions of the Indigenous Peoples rights Act (IPRA) requires that it will be the IPs that will settle their disputes through their customary practices without undue interventions from outside forces to prevent further complications of the issues once there are parties that will be dissatisfied about the outcome of the consensus building process. By HENT