TABUK CITY, Kalinga – Concerned indigenous peoples and barangay officials in some barangays want officials and employees of concerned government agencies and the local government to facilitate the immediate resolution of the rift among the those in favor and those who oppose the 52-megawat run-off-river hydro project along the Chico river.
Bagumbayan Punong Barangay Alejandro Cos-agon claimed the few who oppose the hydro project allegedly recruited fellow militant group members from outside the affected barangays to make it appear that the clamor against the project is strong to the detriment of the plight of the majority who want development in their communities to improve the living condition of the people.
“We do not understand why those against the hydro project are trying to mislead the us who already endorsed the put up of the project by trying to spread false information that many of the residents and their properties along Lucog, Bagumbayan and Naneng will be affected by the project,” Cos-agon stressed.
The barangay official explained that there was already a previous survey of the properties that will be affected and it was discovered that there will only be a few farmlands that will be affected and the property owners already gave their consent for the project through the completed free and prior informed consent (FPIC) process.
Further, he claimed the hydro developer already agreed to institute the necessary mitigating measures by constructing a sturdy retaining wall with a length of over 100 meters in Lucog to avoid affecting the tombs of some families but the opposition still insists that there will be many residents and properties in barangays Naneng, Lucog and Bagumbayan that will be affected when in fact, the indigenous peoples in the said areas already endorsed the project.
According to him, the 52-megawatt hydro project will definitely bring development to the beneficiary barangays through the royalty that will be paid to the their organization, the mandatory shares of the local governments in terms of taxes, the additional benefits to be granted by the developer, the infrastructure projects to be constructed in the area to pave the way for the project, additional projects for irrigation, the company’s corporate social responsibility projects, scholarships for the students from the affected barangays, the livelihood projects, among other assistance.
Cos-agon asserted it is important for concerned government agencies and local officials to already intervene in the said problem to prevent the situation from going out of control because what the majority of the residents who favoured the project want to deal with the situation in a peaceful and legal manner because it seems the opposition to the project want to create trouble by insisting on what they want and even going to the extent of recruiting villagers outside the affected areas to make it appear that they are stronger than those in favour of the project. The Chief of Staff of the unified Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA) also alleged the opposition illegally transferred the established stakeouts of the affected areas, a product of a legitimate survey, outside the same to make it appear that there are more areas that will be affected which is contrary to the actual survey of the place, thus, the need for cooler heads to and for the city and provincial governments to re-investigate the matter to see the actual situation in the area. By HENT