LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Indigenous peoples and indigenous cultural communities (IP/ICCs) should not be used to advance the political and business interests of foreigners and their local political supporters because it will be the IPs that will suffer the consequences of wrong decisions made in the case of the exploitation, development and utilization of the resources within their ancestral domain, Rep. Ronald M. Cosalan said here recently.
The three-term lawmaker underscored the case of the Coheco Badeo Corporation that plans to put up a 500megawat pump storage project in Badeo, Kibungan is a concrete example of the questionable intent of the company in trying to railroad the conduct of the free and prior informed consent (FPIC) to be able to command a higher selling price of the company once it will be sold to prospective investors that are just waiting in the sidelines.
“We could not avoid to doubt the intention of the Korean businessman and his local political partners in rushing the FPIC for its project because the same foreigner has a history of selling his majority shares on his former company and that he was the one who raked in millions of pesos in developer’s fee while the IPs and ICCs were left without any share from the said sale,” Cosalan stressed.
While he is not against the implementation of the project because of its projected economic benefits to the host communities, he pointed out that he is against the ill motive of Mr. Larry Kim and his cohorts in trying to secure the consent of the IPs and then again sell the company to interested Chinese energy companies at a much higher buying price so can earn millions of pesos in guaranteed income from the developer’s fee to the gross disadvantage of the IPs who will not get any single centavo from the said deal.
According to him, there is a big chance that Mr. Kim will sell the company once the IPs will give their consent for the project because Coheco Badeo Corporation’s authorized capital is only P1 million while its paid up capital is only P260,000, thus, there is no way by which it could fund the implementation of the P30 billion project unless the existing shareholders will have to dilute their shares or for them to open other shares and subsequently sell the same to the interested buyers who are waiting in the sidelines.
Cosalan explained it is high time that the IPs understand those opposing the project because its current owners have the alleged evil motive of earning millions of pesos at the expense of their consent for the project which would be actually unfair because the IPs will be the ones to suffer the serious negative impact of the project for the longest period of time while those who sold the company will be enjoying the money that they earned for their own political and business interests.
He emphasized that he will not allow the IPs of Kibungan to be given the unfair treatment by the developer because they will suffer the negative consequences of the project, especially to the state of their environment and their ancestral domain, which will be severe once development work will start in the host communities.