KIBUNGAN, Benguet – Concerned indigenous peoples (IP) leaders in this remote village continue to assert their rights over their ancestral domain which will be reportedly ravaged by the proposed put up of a 500-megawatt pump storage hydro plant project by the controversial Coheco Badeo Corporation after they petitioned the Cordillera office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP-CAR) for the conduct of another round of free and prior informed consent (FPIC) for the company’s application for water rights over portions of the Amburayan river within Badeo’s jurisdiction.
The request of the Badeo Indigenous Peoples Association (BIPA) for a separate round of FPIC was contained in a letter submitted to the NCIP-CAR which was signed by the group’s president Ramon Sed-ek.
The group asserted that the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) endorsed to the NCIP the conduct of a separate FPIC for the water rights application of Coheco Badeo Corporation late last year considering that the FPIC is one of the major requirements that must be complied by the company before proceeding with the hearings scheduled for the said water rights application.
“We will continue to assert our rights over our ancestral domain because we want to protect it from enterprising businessmen who simply want our consent so that they will be able to sell their consent and their resources at much higher purchasing price that will translate to the detriment of the IPs in the area,” the sources added.
Separate sources also confirmed that Mr. Larry Kim, chairman of Coheco Badeo Corporation, is now allegedly going around Metro Manila looking for potential investors who will purchase the majority shares of the company for them to reportedly realize their desired profit at the expense of the IPs in Badeo.
The IPs claimed that their request for another round of FPIC from the NCIP-CAR is an offshoot of what they were able to learn from the NWRB in Manila that the bureau endorsed the conduct of the required FPIC to the NCIP-CAR way back late last year, thus, the need for them to assert their rights over the conduct of the said requisite before proceeding with whatever hearings on the company’s water rights.
The Badeo IPs reiterated their opposition against the construction of the ambitious pump storage project because of the involvement of damming and tunnelling activities that will significantly affect the stability of their supply of potable water and would result to massive submerging of agricultural farms not only in Kibungan but also in Kapangan and nearby Santol, La Union or along the Amburayan river for that matter.
According to the affected IPs, no amount of multi-million socio-economic benefits will compensate the serious damages to be inflicted by the ambitious project to their ancestral dam because it will be the bright future of the present and future generations of IPs that will be compromised for the aggrandizement of the Korean businessman and his partners who happen to be former politicians wanting to earn substantial income for their future political ambitions.
The IPs warned the former politicians involved in the pursuit of the project that once they insist to put up the project and when nature will take its course in the future, they will be answerable to the people for whatever will be its impact to the IPs in all the affected areas and it will be the future that will judge them whether the project is beneficial to the IPs or not. By HENT