KIBUNGAN, Benguet – The National Water Resources Board (NWRB) took cognizance of the petition from concerned indigenous peoples (IPs) in the municipality vehemently opposing the application for water rights over portions of the Amburayan River filed by the controversial Coheco Badeo Corporation for its ambitious 500-megawatt pump storage project in the remote village of Badeo as it scheduled the preliminary hearing for the said opposition on December 11, 2017.
Concerned IPs claimed they were already in receipt of the notice handed down by the NWRB for them to attend the scheduled hearing to present their position on the water rights application filed by the company to allow the eventual put up of the ambitious renewable energy plant.
Dozens of IPs from the different barangays of the municipality will be trooping to Metro Manila at their own expense to show to the NWRB their vehement opposition not only to the application for water rights of the company but also to the planned put up of the pump storage project that will result to their displacement from their ancestral domain and the extinction of the water supply for their rice farms along the river system that had been the source of their food through decades now.
“We are elated that the NWRB has given due course to our long standing petition against the application for water rights of the Coheco Badeo Corporation because we will be given the chance to argue and defend our position in an independent body. We want to prove that the operation of the 500-megawatt pump storage project will result to the massive displacement of IPs from their ancestral domain and the eventual drying up of their rice farms along the Amburayan River because of the demand for huge water supply to operate the plant,” said one of the sources.
The sources claimed that some Coheco Badeo Corporation officials had been trying to convince some of the petitioners to withdraw their signatures to the NWRB petition by allegedly promising them material and cash benefits but they were not able to succeed in doing so after it was exposed that the company had allegedly been bribing people to retract their signatures when it was already filed before the board.
The sources claimed they could not compromise the future of the younger generations of IPs living in the domain by allowing a company to ravage the environment and utilize its rich water resource for the benefit of its foreign and local owners, aside from the fact that the present company officials will simply sell the company to other interested developers once the IPs will give their consent and after concerned government agencies shall have issued the necessary permits for them to command a higher buying price and bigger share from the so-called developer’s fee to be generated from the impending sale of the corporation.
Worst, the IPs expressed their concern that the company that will take over the present owners and officers might not honor the commitments being currently made left and right just to be able to secure their consent which will surely leave the IPs in a quandary while those who were able to enrich themselves will be enjoying t6heir wealth at their own expense.