By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
BAGUIO CITY — The regional office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP-CAR) said that the planned mini-hydro project by the power firm Hedcor along the Amburayan River in Kapangan, Benguet has no free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) as no application has been filed in their office yet.
Nordis learned from NCIP Regional Director Amador Batay-an there is no FPIC granted yet by their office for the proposed project.
“We can only determine formal opposition through the FPIC process,” explained Batay-an.
The FPIC process is mandated by the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 to proponents of any project if such project would affect indigenous communities. The NCIP in a Field Based Investigation (FBI) will determine the affected indigenous communities who would issue or not their FPIC to any project, IPRA further mandated.
No opposition, just miscommunication
A local newspaper here reported that the leaders of indigenous organizations and the local government unit in Kapangan had already given their go signal and that no opposition exists against the project.
The Kapangan Kankanaey-Ibaloi Indigenous Peoples Organization (KKIIPO) is reportedly supportive of the mini-hydro planned by Hedcor.
An elder of the KKIIPO reportedly claimed that there was no opposition from their group over the said project. He claimed that it was only miscommunication with the Amburayan Ancestral Landowners Association (AALOI Inc.) where the latter was against the diversion of water from the river, and not over the mini-hydro plan itself.
It is not clear if the indirectly affected residents along the Amburayan should be consulted for the issuance (or non-issuance) of their FPIC, in case the project will be endorsed by the Department of Energy.
DoE endorsement being sought
Media reported last week that officials of the Hedcor headed by their president and chief executive Rene Ronquillo went to Kapangan for a dialogue with the affected residents.
Hedcor is still seeking DoE endorsement for their project.
“The DoE endorsement is the go signal for us to process the conduct of the needed FPIC,” explained Genevieve Toledo, the press relation officer of the company.
Toledo added that they are still on the process of obtaining the DoE endorsement, which they do not know yet when will it be issued.
River crosses CAR and Region 2
The NCIP-CAR said that a Certificate on Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) was already issued for the indigenous peoples in Bakun, Atok and Kapangan, all towns of Benguet and water sources of the said river.
Even Sugpon, Ilocos Sur was also issued by a CADT by the NCIP there.
The sources of water of the Amburayan River are the Benguet towns of Bakun, Atok, Kibungan, Kapangan and some parts of Bugias, Kabayan, and Tublay, all towns of Benguet.
According to government data, at least 60,848.21 hectares of the river are located in Benguet while 64,715.23 hectares are in Region 2 particularly Tagudin, Suyo, Sigay, Cervantes, Alilem and Sugpon, all towns of Ilocos Sur, and Bangar, Santol, and San Gabriel, towns located in La Union.
In Region 2 alone, the river has a service area of 3,289 hectares and irrigated area of 2,229 hectares, government data show.
The river drains into Vigan, Ilocos Sur then out into the China Sea. # nordis.net