TABUK CITY, Kalinga – Tribal leaders and affected indigenous peoples (IPs) in various barangays of this city lashed out at those spearheading an on-line petition against the construction of a 52-megawatt run-off-river hydro project in a portion of the mighty Chico river and depicting it as a repeat of the struggle against the proposed Chico dam during the martial law regime, saying that the hydro project could not be compared to the Chico dam in terms of its magnitude and effect to the sources of livelihood of the people in the affected areas.
Bagumbayan Punong Barangay Alejandro Cos-agon questioned the credibility of those instigating the on-line petition against the Chico hydro project considering that they were not even involved in the armed struggle against the Chico dam during the martial law years like what he and his companions have done and that they are simply misleading the people about the true and actual facts about the environmentally acceptable project.
“We doubt the real objective of those who are opposing the project when the affected tribes already issued their consent for the project through the required free and prior informed consent. We cannot understand why people who are not from the affected areas of Lucog, Gabumbayan and Naneng are the ones complaining against the project when those that were affected saw the benefits of the project for the development of their ancestral domain,” Cos-agon stressed.
He pointed out that the claim of the petitioners that the project will be a threat to Tabuk City’s identity as the rice granary of the Cordillera is again misleading because the project is geared towards enhancing the irrigation requirements of the rice farmers, especially during the dry months, aside from the benefits to be derived by the host communities through the mandatory shares of the IPs and the host villages and the added voluntary commitments from the company plus the corporate social responsibility projects to be implemented within the affected areas.
San Lorenzo Ruiz Builders and Developers Inc., Union Energy and Karayan Hydro Power Corporation are planning to build a 52-megawatt run-off-river hydro project along a portion of the Chico river purposely to maximize the potentials of the river system for the production of renewable energy that could be infused to the Luzon grid and the Wholesale electricity spot Market.
Cos-agon added IPs are questioning the decision of the Cordillera office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP-CAR) to suspend the negotiations for the signing of a memorandum of agreement between the affected IPs and the developers that will pave the way for the project when the IPs already issued their consent for the project after all their issues and concerns were addressed by the project proponents.
He added even the few IPs whose properties, burial grounds, plantations among others will be affected have kept an open mind about the project and they are now directly negotiating with the proponents to prevent unnecessary parties from interfering with the negotiations that could lead to future complications on what had been agreed upon.