KIBUNGAN, Benguet – Concerned indigenous peoples (IPs) in the municipality are now questioning an alleged enterprising Korean businessman for prioritizing the put up of a 500-megawatt pump storage hydro project in Barangay Badeo under the CohecoBadeo Corporation instead of working out the construction of a 1,000-megawatt hydro project in Barangay Tacadang, which was first issued a renewable service contract by the energy department over two years ago.
Sources, who requested anonymity for security reasons, claimed that Larry Hwon Kim, who is the chairman of the CohecoBadeo Corporation and the Kapangan-based Cordillera Hydroelectric Power Corporation, has a lot of explaining to do to the IPs because he seems to have abandoned his earlier plan of putting up the 1,000-megawatt hydro project in Barangay Tacadang in exchange for the 500-megawatt pump storage hydro project in Barangay Badeo for still unknown reasons.
Kim also seats as the chairman of the Kibungan Hydro Power Corporation, which is the proponent of the 1,000-megawatt hydro project in Barangay Tacadang that was granted a renewable energy service contract over two years ago.
The source explained the Kibungan Hydro Power Corporation was able to apply for water rights over the Kibungan river that will pave the way for the realization of the ambitious project but for still unknown reasons, the Tacadang project was shelved by the company and to their surprise, the CohecoBadeo Corporation was born through Kim’s alleged machination and the 500-megawatt pump storage project was then founded.
According to the sources, the actuations of Kim already established a pattern of putting up and eventually selling renewable energy companies and securing the consent of the affected indigenous peoples (IPs) to guarantee a bigger buying price for such companies for him to be allegedly able to get a much bigger developer’s fee at the expense of the resources of the State and the consent of the IPs.
The sources challenged IPs who still believe Kim’s propaganda, that he wants the remote areas of Benguet to be developed through the implementation of the hydro projects, to wake up to the reality that their consent is being used by the Korean businessman and his Filipino cohorts to bargain for a higher buying price of the company and that they will not be the ones to implement the project in the future considering the expected takeover of other companies that are interested to purchase the company once the IPs have handed down their consent for the ambitious project.
Earlier, Kim allegedly sold the Cordillera Hydroelectric Power Corporation to a Filipino investor after the former was able to secure the consent of the Kibungan and Kapangan IPs for its 60-megawatt run-of-river hydro project in Cuba and subsequently established the Kibungan Hydro Power Corporation in preparation for the free and prior informed consent for the 1,000-megawatt hydro project in Tacadang.
However, Kim allegedly abandoned the Tacadang project and established the CohecoBadeo Corporation for its 500-megawatt pump storage project in barangay Badeo which is now being questioned by the IPs in the different barangays.