LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The Cordillera office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP-CAR) declared that hydropower project developers must prove their financial capability to implement their desired projects in the different parts of the region once they are issued the required certificate of pre-condition (CP) by the Commission prior to the full blast construction of their proposed power plants.
Lawyer Roland Calde, NCIP-CAR regional director, said hydropower developers that were already issued the CPs by the Commission are required to show proof of their financial capacity by having at least 20 percent of the overall project cost.
However, companies that fail to implement their projects one year after the issuance of their CPs will constrain the agency to cancel the issued CP.
“We rely on the requirements of the energy department in terms of financial and technical capacity during the pre-development stage of the hydropower project but we invoke the 20 percent required capitalization once the developers go on the full development of their projects,” Calde stressed.
In the case of the Coheco Badeo Corporation that is intending to put up a 500-megawatt pump storage hydropower plant in the remote village of Badeo, Kibungan, Calde said he already organized the field-based investigation team to ascertain the coverage of the project whether it involves one or two domains for the agency to be able to map out how the free and prior informed consent process (FPIC) will be undertaken.
He explained the company will not be allowed to proceed with the FPIC process if it fails to complete the required documents as outlined in the earlier cease and desist order, thus, the company’s failure to complete the documents will constrain the agency not to allow the FPIC process to proceed.
According to him, the field-based investigation is for the agency to assess the coverage of the project and the communities to be affected where they will be able to draw how the FPIC process will be done pursuant to existing rules and regulations.
The NCIP-CAR official underscored the importance of complying with the requirements of the FPIC process because it will be the communities that will decide the fate of the project once brought to their attention.
Initially, some land owners in barangay Badeo expressed concern over the alleged bullying being done by the officials of Coheco Badeo Corporation against some of them and officials of concerned government agencies to maneuver around the cease and desist order issued against the company against its alleged illegal activities.
The sources fear that Coheco Badeo Corporation will continue to employ bullying tactics against the affected land owners and officials to enable them to circumvent existing procedures and cut short the process to their own advantage with the alleged plan to sell the company and the project at a price that they could demand once the FPIC process and pertinent permits shall have been made available.