BAGUIO CITY – The city council directed the feuding associations of land owners who will be affected by the upcoming operation of the city-owned Asin minihydro power plants to unite before deciding on whether or not to grant their request for the waiver of damages so that the city government will be able to release its share from the previous operations of the three plants.
Members of the council were on in advising the officers of the Poblacion, Tadiangan, Nangalisan Landowners Community Association (PTNLCA) to present pertinent documents that the group already replaced the Tadiangan, Nangalisan Hydro Landowners Association (PNHLA) which earlier entered into a compromise agreement with the city government to prevent the pursuit of the civil case against them as a result of their diverting the water leading to the power plants that subsequently resulted to huge losses on the part of the city.
PTNLCA officials appeared before the council to request that the city waive the demanded damages in the civil case that was part of the compromise agreement so that the city will be able to release the stalled over P2 million in accumulated payment to them.
City legal officer Melchor Carlos Rabanes explained to the council that granting the request of the PTNLCA would have some technicalities because the group was not the same group that the city entered into a compromise agreement and that the subsequent release of the share of the land owners to the group would not be allowed by the Commission on Audit (COA).
Based on the testimonies of the PTNLCA that appeared before the council, concerned land owners have already unseated Roget Sinot, the former president of the TNHLA, because of his unwanted actions that caused them undue damages and that Sinot’s actions were allegedly only beneficial to him and not their organization.
It can be recalled that the city government filed a civil suit and prayer for damages against the TNHLA because of the act of some land owners led by Sinot in diverting the water flow of the Asin river that resulted to the non-opeation of the Asin hydro power plants and accumulated revenue losses on the part of the local government.
However, the group was constrained to enter into a compromise agreement with the TNHLA after the stoppage of the Asin power plants sometime in October 2012 due to the lack of certificate of compliance from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) but the case has not yet been acted upon by the court because of the absence of a waiver of damages on the part of the local government which must be done by the council.
City accountant Antonio Tabin certified that the amount of over P2 million representing the share of the organization from the operation of the Asin hydro power plants is still available with the city’s offers but it can only be released once the court so decides upon the submission of the waiver of damages that must be approved by the city council.
The council informed the land owners that the city government is interested to waive the damages in the future provided that the feuding land owners will be able to get their acts together and come to one of the council’s meetings to inform the local government that they have already gotten their acts together for the sake of the release of the funds for their own benefit.
By Dexter A. See