BAGUIO CITY (Feb. 22) – Despite pronouncement by city officials that the Asin mini-hydro plants are operating smoothly, affected Ibaloi land claimants in Tuba town, still await settlement for their claims.
Roger Sinot, representing Tuba claimants, said the city met with them but representatives refused to pay the city’s obligations.
Task Force Asin Hydros in its February 19 meeting was already in the thick of preparations for a possible bidding process.
“We’re preparing for the Terms of Reference to be presented for approval by the council,” Atty. Peter Fianza, city administrator told Nordis in an interview. He said the task force have set up a system for implementation and that salaries and wages for the retained Hedcor employees are being looked into.
The budget for operations are now in place, Fianza said. Although he did not give details, he admits that settlement is yet to be arranged with land claimants.
Tuba residents claim in their February 13 letter to the Benguet Provincial Board that they “feel that we put aside despite our demand for a settlement before any turn-over or bidding takes place”.
Organized under the Indigenous Cultural Communities of Tadiangan and Nangalisan, the residents earlier told the city council that they have accepted the city’s plan to operate the plants but demanded that their terms and conditions be put in a formal memorandum of agreement.
They want a monthly rental of P100 per square meter for the affected lands; compensation for any damages inflicted over the ancestral lands; priority employment; community livelihood projects; road concreting and street-lighting; free access to water through the flume lines, among others.
Acting Mayor Reinaldo Bautista admitted Thursday while there have been talks with land claimants and a middle point identified, this is the only issue now left hanging, but he did not elaborate. He said aside from Fianza Councilors Rocky Thomas Balisong and Antonio Tabora represented the city in the most recent dialog with Tuba claimants. # Lyn V. Ramo for NORDIS