KIBUNGAN, Benguet – Worried land owners and indigenous peoples (IP) leaders questioned the financial capability of the COHECO Badeo Corporation to bankroll the implementation of a 500-megawatt pump storage hydro power plant in the municipality, citing that existing officers of the corporation will definitely sell the power firm after securing the consent of the IPs and the necessary permit to be able to increase the buying price for their own personal aggrandizement.
The sources, who requested anonymity for security reasons and for fear of reprisal, claimed the company declared only a corporate budget of P20 million in their request to conduct the required free and prior informed consent (FPIC) with the Cordillera office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP-CAR).
“We are concerned over the preservation and protection of our domain from enterprising hydro developers. We do not want to give our consent to a company that will eventually sell our consent and our resources to companies that will not recognize the conditions that we imposed prior to the issuance of our consent for the project,” the source stressed.
He revealed the ambitious project will cost the investors more than P35 billion which they will be able to realize if the current officials will decide to sell the company to willing investors after COHECO Badeo Corporation shall have secured the consent of the affected IPs and the pertinent permits from concerned government agencies.
The IP leaders also casted doubts on the financial capacity of the existing investors and officers of the corporation, citing that even if their assets will be pooled, it will not be enough to sustain the implementation of the capital-intensive project.
The sources challenged the company’s investors and officers to divulge their financial interests and connections to ascertain their overall capacity to bankroll the implementation of the project to avoid doubts by the affected IPs on their ability to pursue and implement the put up of the power plant supposed to be beneficial to the IPs and the communities in the affected areas.
According to them, the current chairman, Howon Kim alias Larry, has a history of selling a power corporation that he earlier established, thus, there is a big possibility that the same situation will be repeated in the case of COHECO Badeo Corporation because the Korean national is not actually an investor but an alleged enterprising businessman.
He warned his fellow IP leaders in Badeo not to be carried away by the sugar-coated words of COHECO Badeo Corporation who had been allegedly promising juicy compensations to the affected land owners among other projects for the communities just to be able to secure their consent for the environmentally critical project along the Amburayan river.
The source pointed out that once the company will be sold to another company, there will be no guarantee that the conditions that the communities imposed for the project will be recognized by the new owner, thus, there will be a serious problem that will transpire while those who have sold the company will be enjoying their monetary gains they obtained from the sale.