KIBUNGAN, Benguet – More than two dozens of legitimate landowners who will be affected by the construction of the 500-megawatt pump storage hydro project to be undertaken by the Coheco Badeo Corporation expressed their vehement opposition to the said ambitious project because of its serious negative effect to their properties and the environment of their ancestral domain.
In a resolution that was furnished the members of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) free and prior informed consent (FPIC) team and other local governments, the affected landowners claimed based on their assessment and evaluation and upon consultation with technical people, the two dams that the company will construct within their properties will significantly affect their villages and their lands considering the extensive tunnelling activities to be undertaken underneath their properties.
The resolution added the extensive tunnelling activities to be undertaken by the company for the realization of their ambitious project will result to massive soil erosion that will subsequently result to the siltation of the river systems in their place which serves as one of their sources of livelihood.
Further, the affected landowners explained once that the indigenous peoples will give their consent for the project, the company will surely sell their consent to investors like what Mr. Larry Kim has done with his shares in the Cordillera Hydroelectric Power Corporation (COHECO) for its 60-megawatt project in Cuba, Kapangan which might not respect the conditions that they have imposed in their memorandum of agreement.
According to the resolution that was also submitted to the Kibungan municipal government, Benguet provincial government and Rep. Ronald M. Cosalan, the land owners are not in favour of the project and that they will not allow their properties to be used by Coheco Badeo Corporation for the put up of its ambitious project which is considered an environmentally critical project, thus, the company should respect their decision to go against the project and for the FPIC team and NCIP team to record their opposition for the public to know the real situation on the ground.
The landowners asserted in affixing their signatures to the resolution, they did the same freely and voluntarily because of their desire to protect their ancestral domain, their properties and the environment from the expected serious damage to be inflicted on their lands once the project will push through.
The landowners called on their fellow IPs in other barangays of the municipality not to be pressured by the interference of former politicians who have their vested interests over the project because they do not mind whether or not their properties and the environment will be ruined by the project for as long as they will be getting their share from whatever developer’s fee that will be derived from the future sale of the shares of the company to other interested companies for the pursuit of the project.
The landowners claimed that Coheco Badeo Corporation should not belittle their capacity to oppose the project because they will exert extra effort to make sure that the project will not push through because of its negative effect to their ancestral domain.