Elders question geothermal effects on environment
By GINA DIZON
PASIL, Kalinga — Elders of Balatoc, Colayo and Guinaang are hesitant on the environmental effects that the giant Chevron company’s applied geothermal plant may bring to their land and mountains. Elders say there is not much information about geothermal plants to answer people’s questions.
This despite a compliance certificate attesting to the free prior and informed consent process given by affected communities, and a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) entered into by community representatives with the Guidance Management Corporation- Aragorn Power and Energy Corporation (GMC-APEC) and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
GMC-APEC are partners of the multinational Chevron company in the geothermal exploration activities in Kalinga covering Tinglayan and Pasil.
Compliance certificates to the FPIC process and respective MOA were gathered from Pasil’s 10 barangay representatives separately grouped into six ancestral domains of the tribes of Colayo; Balatoc; Guinaang in five barangays Guinaang Proper, Maluksad, Pugong, Galdang and Bagtayan; Dangtalan; and Ableg.
“The agreement was not done with the umili,” elder Quirino Dugayon of the Guinaang tribes said, referring to collective membership of affected communities
Consultations among the umili on what the project is all about with full information about geothermal energy/plants is a major concern as pointed out by respondents this writer talked to.
Balatoc elder and Sangguniang Bayan member Albert Maiyao said there are questions that need answers. He said an environmental impact assessment along with an environmental clearance certificate from the department of environment and natural resources (DENR) is crucial in this undertaking that the community has entered into. He also mentioned the need for wider consultation among barangay constituents.
Barangay Kagawad Ignacio Lingbawan of Guinaang feel the same way. He said there are questions that should be resolved on environmental effects that the geothermal plant may bring as earth movements or eruptions. Balatoc locates a dormant volcano. Some individuals fear there may be some effects like what happened to the Pinatubo volcano that erupted when geothermal drilling operations began in the late ‘80s to early ‘90s.
Pasil mayor James Edduba said he advised GMC-APEC- Chevron representatives not to leave any question un-responded to answer peoples’ queries.
The geothermal exploration cover 14,000 hectares in Pasil’s 10 barangays to determine geothermal potentials in the neighboring areas.
Geothermal energy depends on the supply of heat under the earth and equally from a luxuriant watershed to keep water supply consistent. The energy is sourced from steam reservoirs below the ground and holes drilled down to a reservoir . Each separate production well is mined for the thermal energy it produces and sent in a power house. The steam spins the blades of a turbine attached to a generator.
Emilio Kitongan who chairs the energy committee of the Sangguniang Bayan here forwarded that the rights of people should not be compromised. He referred to the terms of the MOA that should be implemented citing identified community projects, within a five year period starting 2007 when the agreement was done.
“Most of these projects are not implemented until now,” he said. Kitongan wrote NCIP and GMC-APEC reminding them of their commitments.
The tri-agreement among GMC-APEC, NCIP, and the elders of the affected communities referred to construction of Malucsad multipurpose Building, rehabilitation of Tabia CS covering Guinaang and parts of Bagtayan, Pugong, Maluksad, and Galdang; Bagtayan health center, Pugong water works ; and concreting of Lantaga to Payoc and Lantaga to Opopa irrigation.
Benefits for Colayo included a day care center, multipurpose pavement , mini hydro at Magolon CIS, school compound fencing, community bathroom one unit , concrete school stage, rehabilitation of level 2 water, rehabilitation of existing irrigation Siyao to Kalwitan.
Other covered barangay-ancestral domains have their own identified community projects agreed upon with GMC-APEC.
A surety bond entered into by APEC and UPCB General Insurance Inc May this year bound the latter to the LGU of Pasil 1.5 million pesos per ancestral domain on communities’ ensuring safe and access of APEC and partners, and APEC to abide by the implementation of the community development projects it has committed to do in a period of time. Projects should have been done by 2013.
Financial assistance of a P10,000 per student per semester is given to 15 scholars per ancestral domain implemented 2009 to date. # nordis.net