KIBUNGAN, Benguet – Villages along portions of the Amburayan River that strands from Benguet up to La Union will reportedly suffer from massive floodings that could lead to the displacement of indigenous peoples (IPs) from their ancestral domain and their sources of livelihood once Coheco Badeo Corporation will be allowed to push through with its 500-megawatt pump storage hydro project in barangay Badeo here.
Technical personnel, who analysed the conceptual plans presented by the project proponents during the previous conduct of the mandatory free prior and informed consent (FPIC) process in the different barangays here, claimed that the proposed co0nstruction of a 36-hectare lower dam of the facility along the Amburayan River that will divert a portion of the flow of the river for the plant to be able to maximize its power generation capacity will definitely result to massive diggings and excavations that could translate to massive floodings in various barangays of Kapangan and Sap-daan, Santol, La Union.
In diverting the flow of the river to the company’s lower dam that will be constructed along the major river system, the sources claimed that the diversion point will have to start way above the mouth of its lower dam for the water to be gradually diverted instead of immediately diverting the river flow directly to the plant’s lower dam.
“There are numerous rice farms from barangay Gadang in Kapangan downstream to Sapdaan in Santol, La Union which will surely be affected by the diversion of the flow of the river to the lower dam of the pump storage facility that could result to the eventual drying up of the rice paddies and the subsequent deprivation of the IPs from their traditional sources of livelihood,” the sources stressed.
The sources claimed that the Cordillera office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP-CAR) should not be satisfied with the FPIC process that was done in Kibungan but instead mandate the project proponent to conduct the similar FPIC process in Kapangan and Santol, La Union considering that some of the portions of the ancestral domain of the two localities will be directly affected by the project.
According to the sources, the claim of the proponent that there will lesser properties that will be affected by the project is actually not true because the magnitude of the lower dam that will have a total land area of more than 36 hectares will be too much that will result to the eventual floodings in the affected areas from the upstream to the downstream communities.
The sources added that they are willing to share their expertise to the IP communities of Kapangan and Santol, La Union who are willing to listen to their findings on the effects of the pump storage projects to their villages once the facilities will be completed so that they will decide whether or not to grant their consent to the ambitious project being sponsored by a controversial Korean businessman, who is in alleged cahoots with some former provincial and municipal officials.
The sources emphasized that they are wondering why the IPs of Kibungan were allegedly fooled to give their consent for the ambitious project when the proponent was not able to present a concrete feasibility study of the project and the detailed engineering plans as well as economic benefits for the IPs during the conduct of the series of community consultative assemblies that turned out to be allegedly railroaded. By HENT