March 23, 2010 in Featured
By RHODA SANTOS
BAGUIO CITY — The indigenous community of Barangay Tinongdan in Itogon, Benguet can now formally manage certain areas near the Binga power plant with the recent signing of a multi-party agreement.
Benguet Governor Nestor B. Fongwan, SN Aboitiz Power (SNAP)-Benguet Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel V. Rubio and Director Amador P. Batay-an of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples-Cordillera Region (NCIP) led the signing ceremonies on March 15, 2010 at the Provincial Capitol.
They were joined by Itogon Vice Mayor Noel G. Ngolob, Tinongdan Barangay Captain and Tinongdan Indigenous Peoples’ Organization representative Norberto I. Pacio, Watershed Management Director Emmanuel A. Umali of the National Power Corporation (NPC), and Asset Valuation Division manager Rommel G. Regacho of the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM).
The agreement formalizes the use and administration of the Binga national and elementary schools, chapel, day care center, former market building and recreation hall in Marian Village by the indigenous peoples’ community.
The areas used to form part of the hydro power complex managed by NPC for 60 years. In 2008, SNAP-Benguet took over the 100 megawatt (MW) Binga power plant after winning the bid held by PSALM.
Mr. Rubio said SNAP-Benguet voluntarily participated in and supported the stakeholders’ consultation process. “We believe in balancing corporate investment with community investment… and that entails making positive contributions to the communities in which we operate,” he said.
Gov.. Fongwan lauded the groups that participated in the process but emphasized that the IPs are the most important group because of their role in the agreement. He noted that “even if the full work is yet to be done, the process of solving problems from way back has begun.”
According to Atty. Batay-an, the agreement was the first of its kind with stakeholders agreeing on a communal site through a consultation process.
“This is a concrete example of how stakeholders can be brought together and how the IPRA [Indigenous People’s Rights Act] can be a tool for cooperation and development,” he added.
The implementing agreement concretizes the May 29, 2009 Memorandum of Agreement which aimed to establish, among others, an Indigenous Peoples’ Cultural Heritage Site in Binga and Barangay Ambuklao in Bokod, Benguet.
SNAP-Benguet is a joint venture between SN Power of Norway and the Aboitiz Group. It also owns the 75 MW Ambuklao hydro power plant. # nordis.net