KABUGAO, Apayao October 26 – Renewable energy developer Pan Pacific Renewable Power Phils. Corp. (PPRPPC) recently turned over to the Kabugao Isnag Indigenous Peoples Organization (KIIPO)- the only organized , registered recognized representative of the Isnag IP community in Kabugao , Province of Apayao the initial financial assistance amounting to P4Million as part of its gesture to fulfill its commitment contained in the Memorandum Agreement between the Isnag IPs, PPRPPC and NCIP even prior to the construction and operation of the much awaited renewable 150 Megawatt (MW) Hydropower project.
PPRPPC Chairman and President Allee Sun formally handed over the check to KIIPO Officers and members of the Council of Elders during a simple turnover rites held at the Cordillera Office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP-CAR) in Baguio City attended by the IsnagCouncil of Elders witnessed by NCIP CAR’s Ethnographic Commissioner Gary Cayat, NCIP CAR Regional Director – Atty. Atanacio Addog, TMSD Head/DMO V-Michael G. Umaming and members of the Regional Review Team (RRT) .
The P4 million financial assistance includes assistance for the conversion of Isnag’s Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim (CADC) to the so-called Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT); support for the preparation of the Isnag’sAncestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan (ADSDPP), and P2Million for the annual Health and Education support to the Kabugao Indigenous Peoples (IPs).
Ms. Sun said that the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process of the 150MW Gened 1 Hydropower project took 6 years to complete attributed largely to the interplay of various issues including the confusion that the Gened-1 Hydropower project was the same as the 600MW power plant that was planned by National Power Corporation (NPC) in the early 1970s which will submerge the entire Municipality of Kabugao.
PPRPPC redesigned the project concept in response to the clamor of the Isnag community and the Local government of Kabugao that is why the firm decided to reduce the original 600MW design to only 150MW capacity which substantially reduced the impact area to only 1 percent of Kabugao’s land area of 93,512 hectares or only 936 hectares. Only 9 of the 22 barangays will be affected by the Hydropower project with only two barangays- barangay Poblacion and barangay Magabta most affected by only 28% and 20% respectively followed bybarangay Bulu at 14%. The remaining 6 barangays will only be affected by 1%-4% only. With the 6 years FPIC activities, most of the identified Isnag household have already relocated to other areas within the same barangay but they will still receive the agreed compensation.
Sun emphasized that the company is committed to the upliftment of the Kabugao Isnag community . PPRPPC views its relationship with both Tawit and Isnag communities aspartners for life. We hear the call for progress from Isnagcommunity . As a testament to that , PPRPPC agreed to provide 2 Megawatts of FREE Clean Energy to power the both Tawits and Isnag households. This is on top of the government share under the Renewable Energy Act RA 9351 or RA Act of 2008 which requires all renewable companies to contribute 1% of its gross income to the government; real property taxes which will have a substantial impact on the revenue of the Municipalities of Pudtol and Kabugao ; Financial Benefits required under the Department of Energy’s ER 1-94 which requires all renewable companies to contribute One centavo for every Kilowatt hour (P.01/KWh) of power generated for electrification, livelihood projects, reforestation & water management. The MOA also includes royalties for the Kabugao Isnag Ancestral Domain; community partnerships; health and medical benefits,etc.
The 150MW Gened 1 Hydropower project will be constructed in the Brgy. Lt. Balag in the Municipality of Pudtol. Its Reservoir encompasses 9 barangays – barangay Poblacion, Magabta, Bulu, Cabetayan, Nagbabalayan, Waga, Laco , Badduat and Luttuacan. The 150MW Gened 1 Hydropower project is designed for Power generation only. The Hydropower project which is expected to be constructed early next year will be finish construction in 5 years.
The PPRPPC Official said that the company envisions Apayaoto be one of the primemovers in the north for renewables withits planned cascading hydropower projects within the Apayao-Abulug River that will propel the entire province of Apayao to be one of the main power supply of clean energy in Luzon. At present, the Province of Apayao sources its power from CAGELCO II and KAELCO. Most of the areas of Yapayaos donot have access to electricity. The 150MW Gened 1 Hydropower project will be able to power the entire Province of Apayao. The construction of the other lined up hydropower projects will allow the province to sell electricity to the grid or nearby provinces. This would translate to more economic development with the influx of more investments and industries ; creation of jobs; increased infrastructures eg. Better roads, bridges, free ports & ecozones; more schools and hospitals ,etc.
PPRPPC believes that the development of the renewable hydropower projects in the Apayao province will contribute significantly to the power supply of the country. Hydropower dams are still the most reliable renewable energy power source. Compared to other renewable power source, hydropower is considered a baseload. It also function as flood control mitigation. Unfortunately, most of the existing hydropower plants in Luzon are more than 50 years old and outdated thus explaining the constant breakdowns and repairs yearly. The Gened Hydropower projects will be designed properly to maximize the use of the Apayao river in generating power. Moreover, PPRPPC’s advocacy is to help our country be self reliant overtime on power and not rely on foreign inputs to generate power.
For his part, Commissioner Cayat pointed out that the assistance given by the company is for the whole IP group in the Isnag domain.
He urged the KIIPO Officers and members of the Council of Elders to aggressively promote harmony, unity, teamwork and solidarity in their community and not to cause division within the community.
Commissioner rallied the KIIPO to adhere to transparency, flexibility with compassion so that those who continue to be misled by wrong information will be clarified and for them to understand the real purpose why most members of the tribe supported the construction of the hydroelectric project within their domain.
“Let us be flexible enough and say yes, we need your support and cooperation. So you should adjust from time to time, Cayat reminded the KIIPO officers and members of the Council of Elders during the said ceremony.
KIIPO Treasurer James Amid emphasized that the turnover of the financial assistance to the organization is a clear testament of the company’s sincerity and good faith to fulfill its obligations under the earlier agreement even without the implementation of the construction of the hydro project which proves that company’s commitment to do so amidst the negative perception that it will not be able to fulfill its obligations with the Isnag community. It is high time that the Isnag community will stop its “slash and burn “activities as a means of livelihood but also to address the siltation of the Apayao river caused by the these activities.
He assured the company and NCIP Officials that the KIIPO will do its part in cascading the same to the grassroots for them to be guided on how to pursue the proper utilization of the funds for the benefit of the indigenous peoples.
Vice Mayor Fabulous Tucjang asserted that the proposed project that will be undertaken by the company will be the one that will help in changing the lives of the Indigenous Peoples who had been suffering for a long period of time that is why he was the only one that expressed his all-out support for the realization of the project.
He stipulated that there will be some aspects that will be sacrificed in the community but the same can also be compensated by the conditions of the agreement which is actually advantageous to the Isnag community who had been longing for development to flourish in their community and help improve the prevailing situation in their community.
Former Mayor and Vice-Mayor Joseph Amid, who is also the Chairman of the KIIPO Council of Elders, expressed his gratitude that the people of Kabugao are now starting to reap the fruits of the development that will be introduced by the company and that he supported the same because of the enormous benefits that will be provided to the Isnag community and the upcoming generations during the duration of the project.
Apayao is part of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR). Based on data from 2022 DTI Data, the Province of Apayao has a population of 119,184 and is relying on agricultural crops such as rice and corn. The Province of Apayao has 7 municipalities – Calanasan, Conner, Flora, Kabugao, Luna, Pudtol, and Santa Marcela. The Municipality of Kabugao has a population of 15,537 with Revenue of P2.7Million.
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on his first SONA speech is pushing for the rapid transition of the Philippines to renewable energy not only to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change on the country but also to address the higher cost of electricity in the country. He said the use of renewable energy will top his administration’s climate change agenda. The country is now faced with a looming power crisis brought about by the nearing depletion of Malampaya gas which used to account for 56% of our power source which is now down to 6% ; increased demand during the post-Covidreopening of economies which unfortunately coincided with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent squeeze on gas supplies into Europe.