KIBUNGAN, Benguet – Concerned indigenous peoples (IP) leaders in Kapangan and Kibungan accused and criticized the members of their municipal councils for grave abuse of authority for allegedly approving a resolution mandating the Cordillera Hydroelectric Power Corporation (COHECO) to submit its financial statement to the two local governments within fifteen days and that the company’s failure to do so will warrant the withdrawal of the municipal endorsements of its 60-megawatt run-off-river project.
The IP leaders, who requested anonymity, disclosed that prior to the enactment of the questioned resolutions, some members of the Kibungan and Kapangan municipal councils allegedly met with some officials of the controversial Coheco Badeo Corporation in Baguio City.
“We doubt on the real intention of the resolutions,” The IP leaders said. “We believe that the passage of the two resolutions by the Kibungan and Kapangan councils were done with haste which exposes them to the possible filing of charges of grave abuse of authority considering that the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies was not applied,” the source stressed.
The sources suspect that the passage of the controversial resolutions by the two municipal councils could also be considered a diversionary tactic on the part of Coheco Badeo Corporation because the company allegedly wants
to shift the attention of the public to other similarly situated projects because its proposed 500-megawatt pump storage hydro project in barangay Badeo is facing stiff opposition by the IPs who continue to question the doubtful free and prior informed consent (FPIC) process previously undertaken for its project.
Earlier, Kibungan and Kapangan IPs endorsed the construction of COHECO’s 60-megawatt run-off-river hydro project in barangay Cuba, Kapangan which already started its construction phase.
On the other hand, Coheco Badeo Corporation is still in the process of securing the consent of IPs potentially affected by its proposed 500-megawattt pump storage project in barangay Badeo but there is stiff opposition from the IPs who do not want their ancestral domain to be ravaged and ruined by environmentally critical projects like the existing one in the area.
The sources asserted that the involved local legislators from the two municipalities have behaved inappropriately.