KIBUNGAN, Benguet – Alarmed indigenous peoples (IP) leaders from the different barangays here lashed out at some publicity-hungry officials of the Coheco Badeo Corporation (CBC) for allegedly trying to sow confusion regarding the purported dismissal of their petition to nullify the free and prior informed consent (FPIC) results for its 500-megawatt pump storage project in the remote village of Badeo that was reportedly tainted with irregularities when the fact-finding results show otherwise.
Reliable sources, who continue to invoke anonymity for fear of reprisal from alleged vindictive local politicians and their cohorts, claimed that the acts of CBC to go on air over a radio block time program and facilitate the publication of a news report claiming that their petition to nullify the previous FPIC results for its ambitious project is a sign of desperation on their part to have the problem disregarded, so that they can already work out the sale of the company to a waiting foreign investor, thus, the need for local officials and IPs to be careful of being fooled into believing in their sugar-coated commitments.
The source argued the recommendation of the fact-finding team of the Cordillera office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP-CAR) for the dismissal of their petition is a clear indication of the employment of squid tactics to mislead people, when in fact the petition was conditionally dismissed because it allowed them to present additional pieces of evidence that will corroborate their allegations of massive irregularities in the conduct of the FPIC for the project.
In fact, the sources pointed out their three prayers in the petition was actually given due course by the fact-finding team wherein the head of the FPIC team will be replaced. That the team also recognized the existence of severed ties among the IPs because of the alleged machinations of the company and their cohorts in the agency. The team strongly recommended for the conduct of a special community consultative assembly in Badeo with the new composition of the FPIC team.
“The game is far from over because we still have available remedies that will eventually render the decision in our favor. The half truths spread by CBC officials is just a sign of their impatience to comply with existing laws, rules, and regulations and their desire to drag the case so that they will be able to earn substantial amounts to advance their political and personal interests,” the source stressed.
The source said the IPs are ready to fight it out until the Supreme Court (SC) because of their rights over their ancestral domain and efforts to preserve the environment to uphold and protect for the benefit of the present and future generations. They will not allow the maneuverings of some of the individuals and groups with interests over the project to prevail as it will be the future of the upcoming generations of IPs in the place that will be jeopardized and compromised.
The sources appealed to their fellow IPs in the different barangays to be vigilant over some of the alleged maneuverings being done by CBC officials for them to change their stand in favor of the project in exchange for promising commitments because such promises will surely be broken because of the alleged impending sale of the company to another corporation once the FPIC will be formally issue. By HENT