TUBA, Benguet October 14 – The opposition of the municipal government to the application of the Baguio City government for the transfer of water rights from the Baguio Water District (BWD) to the local government was premised to compel concerned parties to settle their existing obligations with the indigenous peoples and legitimate landowners traversed by the operation of the city-owned Asin minihydro power plants.
Mayor Florencio Bentres said before transferring the water rights of the Asin river from BWD to the Baguio City government, all issues and concerns relative to the previous operation of the minihydro power plants must be addressed in order to prevent future problems and complications once the winning bidder for its operation will be operating the power plants.
“We want all concerned parties to go back to the drawing board and address the issues and concerns raised by affected indigenous peoples and legitimate landowners. We do not want that similar problems will crop up during the pendency of the project that might derail all efforts to make the Asin minihydro power plants operational,” Bentres stressed.
The local chief executive welcomed the request of Baguio City Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan for concerned local officials, representatives of Goldlink Global Energy Philippines, Kaltimex Energy Philippines and legitimate landowners and indigenous peoples to dialogue with each other sometime in November for them to be able to effectively and efficiently address whatever concerns to be raised prior to the operation of the Asin minihydro power plants and other power plants that were approved along the Asin river.
According to him, legitimate landowners traversed by the pipelines of the Asin minihydro power plants and indigenous peoples who have been affected want the city government and the possible developer to compensate them for the previous obligations of the Hydroelectric Development Corporation and the city from a still undetermined date.
Bentres cited the municipal government understands the predicament of the local government because the power plants have not been operational since October 2012 but city officials should also consider the plight of the indigenous peoples and legitimate landowners considering the sensitive issues of unsettled financial obligations that could translate to more complicated issues once it will not addressed prior to the prospective operation of the power generation facilities.
At the same time, Bentres cited Kaltimex Energy Philippines must also do appropriate consultation activities with the affected indigenous peoples and legitimate landowners because the winning bidder of the operation of the three minihydro power plants have not actually reached out to the affected communities, thus, the municipal government is wondering where it was able to get its data regarding the potential output of the plants that allowed them to submit their bid.