KAPANGAN, Benguet – The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) en banc approved the issuance of a certification pre-condition to the Cordillera Hydroelectric Power Corporation (COHECO) for the construction of a 60-megawatt hydropower plant composed of two 30-megawatt turbines in Cuba here, and the establishment of a 24-kilometer hydro power transmission line in Santol, La Union in the next four and a half years.
The NCIP en banc issued two separate resolutions approving the certification pre-condition for both the hydropower plant and the hydropower transmission line after the company was able to satisfactorily comply with the guidelines for the free and prior informed consent of the affected indigenous peoples and indigenous cultural communities within the municipalities of Kapangan and Kibungan, Benguet and Santol, La Union.
Further, the NCIP certified that COHECO, a locally-based power corporation, complied with the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples rights Act (IPRA) of 1997 and NCIP Administrative Order No. 03, series of 2012 otherwise known as the Revised Guidelines on Free and Prior Informed Consent and Related Processes of 2012.
The Kapangan hydro project was conceptualized by local hydro developers sometime in 2008 and its construction period has been fixed at four and a half years reckoning anytime this year.
Lawyer Jingboy Atonen, COHECO chief legal counsel, said company investors and officials were elated after the NCIP released the required certificates of pre-condition which are among the major requirements that will pave the way for the realization of the renewable energy project in the locality.
“We have patiently waited for the NCIP resolutions which affirmed our compliance to the tedious FPIC process. We are currently working on various requirements on the ground before we will go full blast in our construction activities for the realization of the long overdue renewable energy project envisioned to perk up the economy of indigenous cultural communities in Kibungan and Kapangan towns in Benguet and Santol in nearby La Union,” Atonen stressed.
The COHECO official said the company intends to hire more or less 500 workers for the construction of its main power plant among other major corporate social responsibility projects in the host and neighbouring communities purposely to contribute in increasing the economic activities in such places that will result to generation of additional jobs for local residents and opportunities to increased sources of livelihood.
He explained that the timely issuance of the NCIP resolutions affirming that the company satisfactorily complied with the stringent FPIC process paved the way for the fulfilment of the company’s commitment under the various memoranda of agreement it signed with the indigenous peoples organizations of the host and neighbouring communities who were instrumental in the putting up the power plant.
Atonen appealed to barangay officials and local residents of the host and neighbouring communities to be patient in waiting for the full construction activities considering that there are still some minor requirements that the company must comply with, saying that the start of construction activities and the plant’s subsequent operation will negate whatever issues raised against the company. By HENT