TUBA, Benguet – The Tuba and Sablan municipal governments are pushing for the conduct of consultations among the project proponents, indigenous peoples and indigenous cultural communities and concerned stakeholders on the proposed put up of a multi-million technology-based piggery farm within the 3-hectare demonstration farm of the municipality in barangay Nangalisan, here.
Mayor Clarita Sal-ongan explained while it is true that she attended several meetings with Baguio city Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong on the proposed state-of-the-art piggery project to be established in the municipality, there was no concrete commitment from the municipal government on the project because she knew that there is a need to consult the people about it and gather their sentiments, suggestions and recommendations to guide the project proponents on the steps to be undertaken.
Further, she claimed that the 3-hectare property which is being eyed by the project proponents as the area where to establish the commercial piggery farm is similar to the area where the local government’s demonstration farm is situated and there were already previous plans for the area approved prior to her being elected into office.
“We understand the passion of Mayor Magalong to relocate the piggery owners in Baguio city to a suitable area but we have to strictly adhere to the prescribed processes under our existing laws, rules and regulations governing the implementation of environmentally-critical projects and the need to secure the free and prior informed consent of the affected indigenous peoples,” Mayor Sal-ongan stressed.
The local chief executive clarified she did not reject the proposed piggery farm project but what she emphasised the fact that the project cannot be realized overnight because of the involvement of several critical processes to avoid the project from being restrained in the future once the procedures will not be effectively and efficiently undertaken.
According to her, the agriculture department already released the P10 million for the put up of the road leading to the 3-hectare demo farm during the previous administration and that the P20 million from the same will be used for the put up of the state-of-the-art piggery farm which they have not actually agreed or rejected but instead proposed for the conduct of consultations with the affected IPs to guide the proponents and the local government actions to take based on the results of the consultations.
On her part, Vice Mayor Maria Carantes said the municipal officials remain open to proposed development projects to be implemented in the municipality but the same should have to pass through the stringent consultation processes with the affected indigenous peoples pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) as the municipality is the ancestral domain of the Ibaloi.
“We are always open to discuss possible solutions to our problems and how to go about implementing development projects in our municipality. We will not shut our doors to anyone but project proponents should understand that we need to listen to the plight of our indigenous peoples when such projects will be implemented within their domain,” Vice Mayor Carantes stated.
On the other hand, Sablan Vice Mayor Arthur Baldo said that the local government will await for the proposal that will come from the city government which will be subject to evaluation and assessment by the municipal agriculture office as to compliance to the town’s comprehensive land use plan and other related laws, rules and regulations.
While it is true that Sablan is a member of the Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay (BLISTT), the vice mayor pointed out that whatever development project that will be undertaken by the involved local governments will have to pass through established processes enshrined under the provisions of existing laws, rules and regulations considering that the projects that will be implemented within their jurisdiction will be governed by existing ordinances.
More importantly, Baldo asserted that the proposed technology-based piggery farm will have to pass through the consultation process considering that Sablan is an IP community wherein the consent of the IPs must first be secured by project proponents prior to the implementation of development projects to ascertain that the IPs will directly and indirectly benefit from such project to be implemented within their domain.
He admitted that there are three piggery farms within the jurisdiction of the municipality wherein the commercial piggery farms have been complaint to the standards prescribed by existing environmental laws, rules and regulations, especially in the discharge of waste water where the owners were able to establish their own waste treatment plants to ensure that the waste water that will be released to the rivers pass the prescribed standards.