KAPANGAN, Benguet – The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) granted to Cordillera Hydroelectric Power Corporation (COHECO) the required certification pre-condition for it to proceed with the construction of its 60-megawaat run-off-river hydro power project in barangays Cuba, Beleng-Belis and Balacbac here and barangay Badeo in nearby Kibungan town.
The certification pre-condition was signed by lawyer Leonor T. Oralde-Quintayo, NCIP Chairperson, pursuant to NCIP en banc Resolution No. 06-084-2014 dated October 8, 2014 which is one of the major requirements to the implementation of the new hydro project subject to the terms and conditions embodied in the said resolution and the amended agreement executed and entered into by and among the duly authorized representatives of Kapangan ancestral domain comprising of 15 communities and the Kibungan ancestral domain comprising of 6 communities.
“COHECO has satisfactorily complied with the procedure and process requirements for the issuance of certification pre-condition and the free and prior informed consent, as prescribed under NCIP Administrative Order No. 03, series of 2012 for its 60 mw run-off-river hydro power project application filed before the Department of Energy,” Quintayo said.
Lawyer Jingboy Atonen, COHECO legal officer, said the company is just awaiting the schedule from the Office of the President as to when the groundbreaking ceremonies will be done considering that President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III will be the one to lead the groundbreaking rites signalling the start of the project implementation early next year.
“One of the major components of the hydro project is the opening of a 27-kilometer access road from barangay Cuba, Kapangan up to barangay Badeo, Kibungan in order to provide the residents living in communities in the area access to a road,” Atonen stressed.
He disclosed the initial budget for the major road project in the area is approximately P1 billion which forms part of the P10 billion overall cost for the various components of the hydro power project.
He cited the construction period of the two turbines of the power plant was pegged at four and a half years and that it is likely to operate in full capacity in the fifth year.
COHECO, which is a consortium of Filipino and South Korean investors, has a service contract with the energy department to operate the Kapangan hydro power plant for a period of 25 years renewable for another 25 years.
Aside from generating employment opportunities and increasing the sources of livelihood for the residents in the host communities, Atonen pointed out the new hydro power plant will definitely spur economic growth in the area and would translate to added income among host communities.
Kibungan Mayor Benito Siadto said the construction of the hydro power plant within their areas of jurisdiction will contribute in improving the socio-economic condition of people living in host communities and will contribute in uplifting the stats of Kapangan and Kibungan towns which are at present classified under the fourth to six class municipalities.
“The company observed the necessary procedures and processes in securing the free and prior informed consent of the affected communities. We are optimistic that the implementation of the hydro project will smoothly proceed and will be completed on time,” Siadto said.
He cited the operation of the hydro power plant will definitely contribute in appropriately developing and utilizing the rich water resource of the host communities and increase the availability of renewable sources of energy that will contribute in lowering the excessive price of electricity to the consumers.
Atonen believes host communities will benefit from the operation of the power plant because of its direct and indirect benefits not only to the local residents but also to those who will be benefitting from the power to be produced.