Power firm starts livelihood aid to IPs

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KAPANGAN, Benguet March 05 – The Cordillera Hydroelectric Power Corporation (COHECO) started providing the indigenous peoples living in its host communities initial livelihood trainings as part of its commitment to the people in relation to the put up of the company’s 60-megawatt project here and the nearby town of Kibungan.

Lawyer Jingboy Atonen, COHECO legal counsel, said some 100 local officials and members of indigenous tribal organizations underwent a one-day training on bamboo production courtesy of experts from the Philippine Bamboo Foundation to initially start the implementation of the livelihood assistance component for the people who will be directly and indirectly affected by the construction of the hydro power plants.

The training on bamboo production was principally handled by the COHECO Tawid Foundation, the social arm of the new local power hydro corporation, and the concerned barangay and municipal governments of Kapangan and Kibungan towns.

“We already started fulfilling our social obligations to the host communities even if the construction of the hydro plants has not yet started because we want the people to see that we are committed to do our part under our agreement for the project,” Atonen stressed.

He pointed out barangay and municipal officials from Kapangan and members of indigenous tribal organizations from Kibungan were taught on the importance of bamboo as a major source of livelihood, soil erosion control material, reforestation material and a potential ecotourism attraction.

According to him, the seminar on bamboo production in Kapangan will also be done for the same beneficiaries from Kibungan in the coming months in order to improve bamboo production as a major source of livelihood for the indigenous peoples and indigenous cultural communities to be affected by the hydro power plant construction.

Atonen disclosed bamboo experts from the Philippine Bamboo Foundation will be again visiting the two municipalities in the next two months to do demonstration on the mass production of bamboo and the identification of potential plantation sites that will be planted with bamboo as part of the livelihood of indigenous peoples in the locality.

He said the bamboo production project of the host communities will simultaneously be done with the initial construction activities of the power plant so that the materials that will be planted will already be able to serve its purpose once the hydro plants will be operational after four and a half years.

After the demonstration to be done by the bamboo experts, the COHECO official said the foundation will start the identification of potential nurseries for the production of planting materials to be used as a source of planting materials to jumpstart the implementation of the identified livelihood project for the host communities.

Atonen said the bamboo production seminar training and demonstration is just the start of the implementation of more livelihood assistance to be extended by the power firm and its social arm to the host communities pursuant to its commitment enshrined under the agreement it signed with the local governments and the concerned stakeholders as its social obligation to the people in relation to the put up of its 60-megawatt hydro power plant project in barangay Cuba here. By Dexter A. See

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