LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Rep. Ronald M. Cosalan questioned concerned government agencies the basis of issuing permits and service contracts to the controversial Coheco Badeo Corporation (COHEC0 to advance its ambitious 500-megawatt pump storage project, saying that the company must substantially comply with stringent rules and regulations before being granted such important documents.
Cosalan inquired from the energy department on why it was issued the service contract to develop the environmentally critical project when the proponent, which is allegedly chaired by a Korean broker, failed to secure the required water rights over the Amburayan river to justify the use of the water for the pump storage hydro project.
The lawmaker also inquired from the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID) if CBC chairman Larry Howon Kim, who is a Korean national, has legitimate documents to justify his supposed business dealings in the country, especially in Benguet where he is proposing the put up of the pump storage project and the on-going development of a 60-megawatt run-off-river project which he actually sold to Filipino investors.
“We do not want foreigners to use the consent of our indigenous peoples and our well protected natural resources to enrich themselves at our every own expense which already happened in the proposed 60-megawatt run-of-river project in Kapangan.,” Cosalan stressed.
While it is true that there is no actual sale that was done by the Korean national of the Cordillera Hydroelectric Power Corporation (COHECO) based on the documents from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Cosalan claimed that the dilution of the shares of the majority owners and the creation of additional shares that led to the eventual takeover of the Filipino investors is considered an indirect sale and a circumvention of existing laws, rules and regulations just for them to evade whatever legal and financial obligations with the government.
According to the lawmaker, he will personally look into the matter so that other government agencies will not be hoodwinked to issue permits to the CBC because he will not allow the company to pursue the implementation of the ambitious project without having completed all the required permits and contracts from concerned stakeholders before the start of any development works in the ancestral domain of the indigenous peoples of Kibungan.
Cosalan doubted the real intention of the company in trying to fastrack initial development works when it has was not able to secure the pertinent permits governing the implementation of the project that poses a serious threat to the state of the environment in the area and the domain of the Kankanaey of Kibungan.
Cosalan said that he will respect the decision of the indigenous peoples of Kibungan on the matter but what should not be compromised are the impacts of the project to the state of the environment and the ancestral domain of the indigenous peoples because it will be the present and future generations of inhabitants of the place that will suffer the consequences of whatever will be the serious negative impact of the project to the overall situation in the place at present and in the future.
CBC plans to put up the 5000-megawatt pump storage hydro project in the remote village of Badeo that will use the water of the Amburayan river to produce renewable energy that will sold to the grid.