KAPANGAN, Benguet – Indigenous peoples and concerned land owners from several baragngays along the Amburayan river are now up in arms against the reported construction of a 500-megawatt pump storage hydropower project in barangay Bado, Kibugan town because of its reported serious negative impacts on their sources of livelihood and their potential displacement from their ancestral domain.
Several sources from the affected barangays, who requested anonymity, pointed out the construction of two huge dams within the jurisdiction of Badeo will definitely result to the heavy siltation of the river system, the submersion of their existing agricultural farms and their possible displacement from their ancestral domain.
The sources revealed that several decades ago, the National Power Corporation (NPC) planned to dam portions of the Amburayan river purposely for power generation and irrigation but Kapangan officials and residents joined forces in opposing the ambitions project because of its effect on their sources of livelihood and their status as indigenous peoples in the said barangays.
“We do not want what happened to other areas to happen to us and our siblings that is why we stand firm in our earlier stand against the construction of two huge dams purposely for power generation and irrigation in the upper portion of the river that will surely result in our eventual eviction from our ancestral domain that we had protected since time in memorial,” one of the sources stressed.
Another concerned land owner lamented the Coheho Badeo Corporation for trying to hide from them the technical description of their ambitious 500-megawatt pump storage hydropower project because they allegedly want to railroad the free and prior informed consent (FPIC) process that will exclude them from the supposed areas to be affected by the project.
According to them, the field-based investigation team organized by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) should be transparent in dealing with the situation and be circumspect in coming out with a decision to include other areas outside Badeo which will be directly affected by the construction of the pump storage hydro project.
The sources pointed out it is impossible that only Badeo will be affected by the company’s project when its lower and upper dams will be situated along the Amburayan river, thus, low-lying areas of Kapangan will be surely affected and numerous farmlands are projected to be submerged with thousands of indigenous peoples standing to be displaced.
They claimed Kapangan indigenous peoples favoured the 60-meegawatt project of the Cordillera Hydroelectric Development Corporation (COHECO) based in Cuba because it is a run-off river system and not a dam project.
The sources argued the effects of a run-off river system to their sources of livelihood and their domain is far better than a storage dam because the latter will surely result in their displacement and destruction of the properties they have preserved and protected since time immemorial.