By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Members of multi-sectoral groups and individuals from the different municipalities of Mountain Province lament the heightened human rights violations at the entry of various applications for geothermal, wind and hydro power plants and militarization.
In a program held in front of the Bontoc municipal hall in commemoration of the International Human Rights Day on December 10 spearheaded by Cordillera Peoples Alliance-Mountain Province (CPA-MP) and Mountain Province Human Rights Advocates (MPHRA), speakers from different organizations cited these hightened violations in each sectoral situation reported.
Binnadang – Innabuyog – Gabriela presented the vulnerability of women married or single and even the youngsters to abuses perpetrated by soldiers stationed within the communities in the province.
According to Marcelo Daweg of CPA-MP, soldiers belonging to the engineering brigade of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are encamped in Barangay Ballugan of Sagada and Baguitan in Besao. He also said AFP Peace and Development Teams (PDTs) are deployed in the municipalities of Natonin and Paracelis in the communities of Camatagan, Lagan, Tambingan and Napua of the municipality of Sabangan.
He described that the community members are always uncomfortable with the presence of armed soldiers inside their villages. He added the mere presence of a battle-ready group poses danger to the people, including the unfriendly attitude of the soldiers towards the residents.
Daweg said that almost all the municipalities of the province have applications for geothermal energy projects by various companies.
In 2010, a geothermal project was being eyed in the Mainit, Bontoc-Sadanga area covering a total land area of 58,911 hectares and a power-generation potential of 60-100 Megawatts. 25 wind turbines of a wind farm projected to produce 15 megawatts will be erected by PhilCarbon along the Pilao-Langsayan Ridge within the boundary of Sagada and Besao.
Asia-Pac Capital Services Ltd. is planning to build Hydro electric power plants along the Talubin River in Bontoc; Siffu river in Kadaclan, Barlig flowing to Natonin to Paracelis to Cagayan and Tanudan River in Barlig.
The people of Mt. Province are also facing the threat of the entry of large scale mining corporations.
In 2008, residents of Tadian, Bauko and Sagada opposed the encroachment of the world’s largest transnational mining company Anglo-American PLC’s subsidiary Cordillera Exploration Company Inc. into their lands.
The application of the said company covered 1,872.50 hectares within the ancestral domain of the nine barangays of Bauko, two barangays of Tadian and one barangay of Sagada as early as October 1997.
Until now, the applications of the said mining company are still pending before the Mines and Geo sciences Board (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Daweg said with the entry of energy projects and large-scale mining companies comes with militarization notably in the areas where opposition to anything about the proposed project is expressed.
According to Daweg, the vilification of development workers and even the members of the League of Progressive Students continues.
He said because of this, they are subjected to harassments and surveillance by state agents.
Daweg said after the program, they staged a mach-rally from the municipal grounds to the Mt. Province multipurpose hall. There he added that they held an electoral education seminar in the afternoon. # nordis.net