KIBUNGAN, Benguet – Concerned indigenous peoples (IPs) and some members of the Council of Elders in four sitios of barangay Badeo declared lawyer Severino Lumiked, free and prior informed consent (FPIC) team leader of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), as ‘persona non grata’ in their villages because of his alleged interference and manipulation that resulted in the sudden reversal of their no vote against the proposed 500-megawatt pump storage project of the Coheco Badeo Corporation to a surprising yes vote as per reported consensus of the pre-selected members of the Council of Elders.
In a resolution signed by hundreds of villagers in sitios Lebeng, Mocgao, Tableo, and Balbalanag, the petitioners asserted pertinent provisions of the 2012 FPIC guidelines which prevents the members of the FPIC team from interfering in the consensus-building of the elders considering that what should be practiced is the primacy of the customary laws but instead of recording the proceedings, Lumiked allegedly maneuvered and facilitated the proceedings until he declared that the supposed no vote became a yes vote for the project.
The resolution accused Lumiked of refusing to accept the no vote of the IPs which was their consensus and declared that the same will not be recognised and barred IPs who did not participate in the previous community consultative assembly from participating in the consensus-building.
When the IPs suggested that the consensus be done through votation which was also the suggestion of Punong Barangay Bestre Domez, the resolution emphasised that Lumiked allegedly insisted in doing the consensus by the pre-selected members of the Council of Elders instead of allowing the participation of the IPs who were present in the venue.
According to the resolution of the IPs, there was no consensus of the members of the Council of Elders that transpired when they met because it was actually Lumiked that impressed upon them that considering that there are those in favour while some of them have requested for the delay of the project to allow the 60-megawatt project to push through, the said stand is construed as a yes vote, thus, it was his decision that was entered into the records.
The resolution asserted that the yes vote entered into the records upon the maneuverings of Lumiked is contrary to the no vote of the IPs which was their actual consensus, thus, Lumiked allegedly trampled upon their rights as enshrined in Republic Act (RA) 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) wherein it was impressed upon them that the primacy of the customary laws shall be the one to prevail.
The resolution stipulated that the IPs of the said sitios will no longer recognize Lumiked’s authority and personality and they will not allow him to step on their ancestral domain because of his disrespectful acts that tainted the conduct of the FPIC, thus, they want the NCIP to immediately replace him as the FPIC team leader to prevent the occurrence of a worst-case scenario once he will continue to spearhead the FPIC process of the controversial project.
The IPs claimed Lumiked’s blatant actions in favour of the project have resulted to the division of the IPs in their place and have resulted in disagreements that now tend to compromise the peace and unity of the people in their villages.
The resolution was submitted to the NCIP-CAR, Benguet provincial government. Kibungan municipal government, and Rep. Ronald M. Cosalan. By HENT