BAGUIO CITY – The management of the River Flow Ventures and Power Energy Corporation assured members of the local legislative body it will strictly comply with the prescribed conduct of the required free and prior informed consent (FPIC) process to be administered by the Cordillera office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP-CAR) prior to the prosecution of the rehabilitation and upgrading of the minihydro-power plant owned by the State-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).
Benjamin Gacusan, assistant vice president, national regulatory compliance of River Flow Ventures and Power Energy Corporation, said that the company submitted the barangay resolution of Camp 7 supporting the implementation of the project after securing a similar barangay resolution from nearby Camp4-Camp 6, Tuba, Benguet which will be used by the NCIP-CAR as basis for the conduct of the required field-based investigation on the affected indigenous peoples prior to proceeding to the full blown FPIC process.
The company was awarded by the BCDA, through the John Hay Management Corporation (JHMC) to implement the proposed rehabilitation of the John Hay minihydro power plant from its previous 1-megawatt power production to roughly 2.7 megawatts. The weir of the power plant is located within the jurisdiction of barangay Camp 7 while its power house is hosted by barangay Camp 4-Camp6, Tuba, Barangay.
It will be recalled that the minihydro power plant was heavily damaged by the July 16, 1990 killer earthquake that struck Baguio City and other parts of Northern Luzon and the plant never operated since then.
Gacusan explained to local legislators that the barangay resolutions issued by the two affected barangays are simply the basic requirements of the NCIP-CAR for the agency to proceed with its field-based investigation to ascertain the indigenous peoples who will be directly affected and who will be the subject of the FPIC process in relation to the implementation of the project.
The company acquired a 25-year service contract from the energy department for the use of the water of the Bued river for the eventual operation of the John Hay minihydro power plant that is expected to have an increased power output after the implementation of the rehabilitation project.
According to the company official, the rehabilitation of the heavily damaged power plant costs around P381 million with a projected recovery period of more or less 10 years depending on the sustainable production of the power plant.
If the conduct of the FPIC process is positive, the company and the IPs will be entering into a memorandum of agreement containing the benefits due to the IPs and the host communities to be provided by the company during the operation of the rehabilitated and upgraded power plant.
Gacusan also assured the members of the local legislative body there will be substantial volume of water that will be left in the Bued river for other purposes as prescribed under the regulations handed down by concerned government regulatory agencies.
By Dexter A. See