BAGUIO CITY – The Regional Development Council (RDC) in the Cordillera wants local governments and indigenous peoples (IPs) in the different parts of the region to bring to the attention of the region’s policy-making body their complaints against questionable service contracts covering various river systems in their areas of jurisdiction to address issues being raised against the unwarranted exploitation, development and utilization of the region’s rich resources to the detriment of the host communities.
RDC-CAR chairman and City Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan said local officials and IPs who have valid issues to raise against the entry of companies to exploit, utilize and develop the resources within their ancestral domain should bring to the attention of the policy-making body their complaints so that these can be effectively and efficiently addressed in the regional level.
Earlier, the RDC-CAR reported that there were 67 service contracts issued by the energy department covering various river systems around the region for the production of more than 4,200 kilowatts of renewable energy and that the said service contracts are located within various ancestral domains.
Under Republic Act (RA) 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), companies intending to exploit, develop and utilize the natural resources of the region must first secure the free and prior informed consent of the IPs who own the domain of the projected areas of operation.
Concerned IP leaders in the region called the attention of the RDC-CAR to intervene in the alleged questionable issuance of the service contracts covering the river systems in their ancestral domains without their expressed consent in violation of existing laws, rules and regulations.
Domogan pointed out in case the Cordillera will achieve its autonomous status in the future, the issuance of permits for renewable energy plants will be lodged with the autonomous regional government instead of the central office of the energy department and because they know better their backyard compared to those who are in Metro Manila, the perennial issue on these grants of service contract even without the consent of the affected ancestral domain owners can be addressed more responsively.
On her part, Milagros Rimando, RDC-CAR vice chairperson and regional director of the Cordillera office of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA-CAR), said the RDC-CAR passed a resolution requesting the energy department to put a regional office in the Cordillera so that similar issues and concerns will be addressed at the regional level as it is the appropriate agency to respond to concerns relative to energy especially that the region has been and is being eyed as one of the potential sources of renewable energy that could be infused to the grid.
By Dexter A. See