LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Rep. Ronald M. Cosalan warned officials of the Cordillera office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP-CAR) and Coheco Badeo Corporation that they will suffer the fate of the famous Ilocos Norte 6 if they continue to allegedly manipulate and railroad the free and prior informed consent (FPIC) for the company’s proposed 500-megawatt pump storage hydro project to be built in the remote village of Badeo. Kibungan.
Cosalan, who is still weighing his options whether or not to conduct the much awaited congressional inquiry on the issue, pointed out he had already received numerous complaints on the alleged irregularities in the conduct of the various community consultative assemblies to get the consent of the affected indigenous peoples (IPs) and it seems that the NCI FPIC team and Coheco Badeo Corporation officials are allegedly in cahoots to distort the issues so that it can get the consent of the IPs which is actually contrary to their position against the ambitious project.
The three-term lawmaker questioned why the NCIP FPIC team and Coheco Badeo officials are rushing the consent of the IPs when the pertinent provisions of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act clearly provides that they should be given sufficient time to consider the advantages and disadvantages of the project before giving their yes or no votes.
“We are just waiting for the proper time before we will work on the congressional inquiry. If those who will appear before the concerned House committee will not tell the truth, then we will be forced to propose for their being cited in contempt and detained like what happened to the famous Ilocos Norte 6,” Cosalan stressed.
Further, he claimed he is still in the process of collating the pertinent documents of the two companies where Larry Howon Kim is connected so that lawmakers can clearly appreciate the issue and the motive of the Korean national in ramming to the throats of the IPs the project that is detrimental to their ancestral domain and the environment.
According to him, NCIP FPIC team officials should also watch out for their biased actions because he will not hesitate to move for their being cited in contempt once they refuse to cooperate with the investigation so that they will be also detained in the House until they will tell to the committee whether or not they are being pressured by politicians who have interests over the implementation of the planned pump storage project.
Cosalan is wondering why the NCIP-CAR officials refuse to grant the various petitions from the concerned IPs for the suspension of the on-going FPIC process to thresh out the problems and address them before allowing the sensitive activity to continue which now casts doubt on their credibility and integrity as the IPs now believe that they are actually favoring the project proponent which not be the case.
He underscored that the primacy of the customary laws of the IPs should be respected at all times in the conduct of the process but there are instances when the NCIP FPIC team officials have allegedly directly intervened that is now creating confusion among the IPs in the different barangays.