KIBUNGAN, Benguet – The Cordillera office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP-CAR) ordered the Coheco Badeo Corporation, proponent of the 500-megawatt pump storage hydro power plant in barangay Badeo, to strictly comply with the revised guidelines for the free and prior informed consent (FPIC) for its project by reproducing and providing the concerned indigenous peoples with the pertinent documents relative to the company’s application for certificate of pre-condition from the agency for further evaluation by the IPs of the involved ancestral domain.
In his letter dated June 28, 2017 addressed to Coheco Badeo chief executive officer Apolinario Bagano, NCIP-CAR regional director Roland P. Calde asserted the need for the company to comply with the government’s full disclosure policy, thus, the need to make available to the IPs all pertinent documents relative to its proposed project which they could use as reference for their future queries in the upcoming second community assemblies in the different barangays.
He also reminded the company to strictly adhere to the required activities in the conduct of community consultative assembly 2 under the 2012 revised FPIC guidelines.
While the agency found no justifiable reason to warrant the suspension of the FPIC proceedings as prayed by the concerned IPs, Calde pointed out failure on Coheco Badeo’s part to provide the pertinent application documents to the requesting IPs shall be construed as a serious violation of existing FPIC rules, thus, the FPIC team must be updated on the company’s future actions on the matter.
In his Memorandum to Nora L. Ramos, NCIP Benguet provincial officer, dated June 28, 2017, the NCIP-CAR official directed her to require Coheco Badeo Corporation to reproduce the company’s application documents and subsequently furnish the concerned IPs that filed the petition to suspend the FPIC proceedings and that the FPIC team can require the production of pertinent documents from the proponent anytime that the team deems it necessary to answer the concerns of the IPs being consulted for the project.
In his separate letter to Lilian Donato et. al., who are the petitioners in the said case, Calde explained the issues raised in their petition could be best addressed during the conduct of the FPIC process, particularly in the community consultative assembly 2 wherein the company will be required to adhere to the government’s full disclosure policy.
He noted during the second community assembly, the proponent will be required to present the project, the program of activities and the scope of work, the cost and benefit of the project to the IPs, the disadvantages of the project and the company’s proposed mitigating measures to address the perceived disadvantages, sharing of an expert, remarks of concerned government agencies and concerned non-government organizations, open forum for the IPs to voice out their issues and other remarks from concerned stakeholders.
Coheco Badeo Corporation officials pointed out the company submits to the wisdom of the regional director, stating that the ruling enjoins the proponent to elucidate all the issues that were raised by the concerned IPs in their petition during the conduct of the required community consultative assembly 2.
The company officials added the NCIP-CAR required the proponent to present all the pertinent documents submitted for its certificate of pre-condition application which is in compliance to the government’s full disclosure policy and that it was made clear that failure on their part to comply will be treated as a violation of the FPIC rules.
On the clamor of the IPs that the 60-megawatt project of the Cordillera Hydroelectric Power Corporation (COHECO) will first be allowed to push through prior to the put up of the company’s 500-megawatt pump storage power plant, Coheco Badeo Corporation stated there seems to be no problem on the matter because the public is aware that the 60-megawatt project started its early works as early as last year with the construction of its temporary facilities and with the opening of its proposed access road from Cuba, Kapangan to its weir in Badeo, Kibungan, thus, it is just but proper that the 500-megawatt pump storage project will start once the IPs shall have issued their consent since the earlier project had already started.
Concerned IPs who filed the petition to suspend the FPIC proceedings remain optimistic that the NCIP-CAR will continue to uphold their interest over their ancestral domain, citing the need for the IPs to be presented with facts and figures relative to the proposed pump storage project.