Kibungan IPs doubt Korean hydro investor

KIBUNGAN, Benguet  – Indigenous peoples (IP) elders in this town are now doubting the capability of the Korean investor to bankroll the construction of the proposed 500-megawatt pump storage hydro power plant in the remote village of Badeo and his sincerity to comply with whatever conditions that they will impose prior to the implementation of the ambitious project.

Sources, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal from alleged vindictive officials of the Coheco Badeo Corporation, said that based on their observation during the initial stages of the purported negotiations for the crafting of the memorandum of agreement between the IPs and the company to pave the put up of the project, the Korean investor, Larry How on Kim, was obviously evasive in responding to the queries of local officials and IP leaders on the specific benefits that will be derived by the ancestral domain from the possible operation of the hydro power plant.

“We find the Korean investor and his Filipino allies to be evasive on our plight for the provision of the necessary details on the benefits that will accrue to our ancestral domain once the hydro power plant will be constructed if we finally agree to the terms and conditions of the agreement,” the source stressed.

The IP leaders explained that it was already obvious that the company will not be the one to implement the multi-billion project because it is vent on allegedly selling the company to interested hydro developers once the IPs will issue their required free and prior informed consent (FPIC) and the subsequent agreement outlining the duties and responsibilities of the concerned parties.

According to the sources, the revelations of some IP leaders in the past regarding the grand plan of the company to sell the same to interested hydro developers is turning out to be a reality, thus, the could not blame those who are against the project in reiterating the fact that the Korean investors and his Filipino cohorts are simply interested in the huge developer’s fee that they could derive from the sale of the company to interested energy companies.

The IP leaders also observed that local officials seem not to be satisfied on how the Korean investor and his Filipino allies respond to the queries of concerned IPs on the actual benefits that will be cascaded to them and the possible effects of the P30 billion project to the state of the environment and their sources of livelihood.

Based on previous interviews with those who were against the put up of the project, the members of the Board of Directors of the Coheco Badeo Corporation do not actually have the financial capacity to produce the required funding of the multi-billion project even if their assets will be consolidated that is why the possible sale of the company to interested investors is likely and what the company is awaiting is for the issuance of the FPIC and the signing of the agreement so that they could command a much bigger buying price before they will transfer the rights to the new investors.

The source added that there was already a precedent that happened in the case of the 60-megawatt run-off-river hydro project in Kapangan where the same Korean investor sold the company to a Filipino company after the previous company was able to secure the FPIC of the affected IPs, this, Kibngan folk should be wary of the impending sale of their resources and consent. By HENT

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