KIBUNGAN, Benguet September 21 – Indigenous peoples and indigenous cultural communities (IPs/ICCs) are demanding from an enterprising Korean businessman at least 30 percent share from his profit on the so-called developers’ fee from the sale of the Cordillera Hydroelectric Power Corporation (COHECO) to fund the implementation of their social programs and other related activities for the entire benefit of their ancestral domain.
Under Resolution No. 10, series of 2017, the Kibungan Kankana-ey Ancestral Domain Tribe Organization (KKADTRIBO), the duly registered IP organization of this town, stipulated the since Larry Howon Kim, COHECO chairman, profited from the unilateral sale of the town’s natural resources and their consent for his supposed 60-megawatt hydro power project in Cuba, Kapangan, it is but just and fair that the IPs be given a reasonable share of 30 percent from his profit to be directly deposited to the group’s bank account to be used for its social programs and projects.
The KKADTRIBO alleged that during the free and prior informed consent of the COHECO run-of-river hydro project in Cuba, Kapangan sometime in 2013, Kim presented himself as the foreign investor of the company that will infuse the needed funds for the implementation of the project and the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects for the sustained growth and development of the IP communities in Kapangan and Kibungan.
The group added some concerned IPs exposed that Kim allegedly sold his shares in COHECO to new investors for at least P1 billion that allowed him to earn a substantial income in terms of the so-called developers’ fee even before the start of the implementation of the project.
When Kim went to Kapangan town last May 2017, the resolution stated he allegedly announced in public that he already transferred majority of his shares in COHECO to Ekie Gonzales for a huge consideration that allowed him to be reimbursed of his expenses and earn an income worth over P1 billion to the greater disadvantage of the IPs that endorsed the realization of the project.
The group reminded Kim that the IPs deserve the necessary share from his unwarranted sale of COHECO to Filipino owners because if not for the natural resources that the IPs have protected since time in memorial and if not for the consent that they issued, no buyer would be interested to infuse such a huge amount of money that allowed him to earn over P1 billion without even securing their consent for the said unwarranted sale.
After selling COHECO, the IPs claimed that Kim eventually facilitated the put up of the controversial Coheco Badeo Corporation that now plans to put up a 500-megawatt pump storage hydropower plant in barangay Badeo which will utilize the same water used by COHECO to operate its 60-megawatt hydro project.
The KKADTRIBO resolution was forwarded to the concerned municipal officials of Kibungan, Benguet provincial officials and the Cordillera office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples for their information and further action as the IPs are now clamoring for justice from the alleged illegal activities committed by the Korean businessman.