BAGUIO CITY – The Board of Directors of the Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) passed a resolution requesting the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to sponsor the training of its engineers and qualified personnel on design and construction of small hydroelectric plants to empower them to spur the development of the Cordillera Administrative (CAR) which has great potentials for such vital resource being the watershed cradle of northern Philippines.
The resolution stated that the government of Japan, through the JICA, is again constructing a 10megawatt dam for Ifugao to spur the development of the province, thus, there is a need to develop the Cordillera’s human resource towards review hydroelectric power construction and generation to spur the region’s development pursuant to the mandate of the Philippine Constitution to instill autonomy for the region as a means of speeding up its progress, it being one of the poorest regions in the country despite its being a water, gold and mineral haven of the nation.
The resolution added that despite such potential resource, the CAR has no technical know-how and expertise in the development of its water resources into hydroelectric dams which each town can truly own and operate as the water resources are being tapped and owned by private, profit-oriented companies.
The BENECO board underscored to address the urgent need for the region to develop its resources for its own progress, the cooperative serving Benguet and Baguio City has adopted as its priority a program to help in the development of hydroelectric power to help speed up the progress of the communities hosting its water resources.
BENECO was already able to identify 2 initial sites to construct 2 minihydro power plants, the construction of which has been approved by the energy department and towards the said endeavour, it needs to train its personnel in hydro power generation to enable it to truly support Cordillera communities in their desire to manage and own hydroelectric power generating plants within their jurisdiction.
The resolution pointed out that AR is endowed with river water resources which had even developed by the government and private developers for hydro power generation and the power generated by the constructed dams were channelled to Manila and other places outside the region while the villages in the CAR were seriously neglected or were the last to benefit from electrification through the said resources.
BENECO emphasized the remaining river systems in the region are now being subjected to water rights applications and development of minihydro power plants by companies which are not originally based in the region, despite protests from the communities that play host to the said water resources but are not directly and substantially benefit from the hydro development.
JICA was able to put up a minihydro power plant in Ifugao which it turned over to the provincial government wherein the proceeds from the sale of power is being used for the maintenance of the rice terraces, thus, it should serve as a model for the development of hydro plants regionwide to prevent private companies from taking advantage of the situation that result to the deprivation of the rights of the indigenous peoples to manage the rich water resources within their midst for the development of their communities. by HENT