KAPANGAN, Benguet – Indigenous peoples (IPs) from the nearby town of Kibungan started to get a portion of its royalty from the upcoming operation of the 60 megawatt run-of-river project of the Cordillera Hydroelectric Power Corporation (COHECO) in Barangay Cuba here.
COHECO officials led by its President and Chief Executive Officer Jose Xavier Gonzales turned over to the officers and members of the Kibungan Kankanaey Ancestral Domain Tribe Organization (KKADTRIBO) a check amounting to P1.5 million to be used for projects that will the benefit of the IPs within the ancestral domain.
The advance assistance to the IPs was received by KKADTRIBO officials led by the town’s Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) Albert Mayamnes and witnessed by municipal officials led by Mayor Cesar Molitas. Also present during the simple turnover rites were Kapangan local officials led by Mayor Many Fermin.
Under the memorandum of agreement between COHECO and the Kibungan IPs, the company will be providing the IPs the amount of P7 million as royalty for the utilization of the resources within their domain once the operation of the renewable energy plant will commence after the construction period.
Previously, both the IPs of Kapangan and Kibungan gave their free and prior informed consent (FPIC) for the proposed 60 megawatt project to push through to provide an added source of renewable energy that will contribute in spurring economic growth in the two less developed towns of the province.
COHECO officials explained the advance assistance given to the IPs of Kibungan will be deducted from their annual royalty share once the company will start the operation of the renewable energy plant.
The construction of the power plant initially started with the building of the over 20-kilometer access road from Cuba in Kapangan up to Badeo in Kibungan to pave the way for the subsequent put-up of the necessary facilities and the installation of required equipment to make the plant operational within four years pursuant to the company’s program of activities for the said renewable energy project.
COHECO officials believe that the completion of the project will contribute in providing additional renewable energy sources for the grid coupled with the implementation of various development projects within the host communities that will be funded from the royalty of the IPs and the share of the concerned local governments from the national wealth taxes to be paid by the company, among other mandatory shares pursuant to existing energy rules and regulations.
Earlier, COHECO donated to the host barangays in Kapangan three vehicles which could be used by barangay officials in enhancing the delivery of the needed services to their constituents for the benefit of improving the prevailing situation in their areas of jurisdiction.
Gonzales acquired majority ownership of COHECO after its original owner, Larry Howon Kim, sold most of his shares to the interested party.