December 21, 2009 in Featured
By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
Benguet SP support their cause
BAGUIO CITY — Families and clans affected by a geothermal project in Daclan, Bokod, opposed anew the project as it caused stress on the social environment and disrupts the peaceful relationships of indigenous peoples in the area.
Bonded under the Kalesay ni Emaga-ngan (Bokod) Association, Inc., they doubt that the geothermal project adheres to sustainable development and undermines their rights as indigenous peoples.
“To put another energy project in Bokod which already hosts two hydro-electric dams, and provides water to another mega dam (San Roque) downstream is subjecting the natural environment of Bokod to too much environmental stress,” the Kalesay ni Emaga-ngan statement said.
The residents in their statement said that the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples’ Benguet office process of consultation and consent acquisition is insufficient.
Nordis learned that in an NCIP Benguet office facilitated free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) consultation held on May 14, the affected residents rejected the project.
Despite questions and protests, another FPIC process was held on August 20 which resulted to a favorable consent on the project.
“No matter how well meant the NCIP might be, the process is inherently flawed. Proper consultation of people for an application of this magnitude could not be properly contained in a single process,” it said.
The residents pointed out that the process does not allow the acquisition of consent of all areas to be affected by the project. “It does not have any environmental impact measurement, but relies solely on what the proponent states in their application,” they pointed out.
Support from local legislators
As the NCIP allegedly failed to recognize the peoples position against the project, the residents utilized venues to advance their position.
Last week, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Benguet conducted a hearing on the geothermal project in Daclan, Bokod.
They came out with a resolution that the FPIC process shall be started again based on their findings and support on the residents claim that the process was questionable, a resident explained.
The residents claimed that they have learned their lesson from the past when resources of Benguet were exploited for various “development projects.”
They enumerated the projects which include the Ambuclao and Binga dams that displaced their people, the mining of Mankayan and Itogon, and the San Roque Multi-purpose dam.
“We learn that seemingly bright promises will likely be empty ones. More so, we learn that there are no short-cuts along the road to genuine development. We learn that there is a need for careful, holistic, and well planned development projects,” the statement said. # nordis.net