By SHERWIN DE VERA
BAGUIO CITY — Petitioners against the Upper Tabuk Hydroelectric Power Project (UTHPP) criticized the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Kalinga for considering only two of the five tribes identified to participate in the free prior and informed consent (FPIC) process, for the validation process on the petition against the project.
The criticism is about the explanation provided by NCIP Kalinga during an interview with Nordis that NCIP Kalinga would only investigate the concerns raised against the UTHPP and FPIC process in Taloctoc and Malbong communities.
In the interview, an official of the office, who refused to identify herself, said, “mapan kami iti community, per community nga adda signatory mapan i-validate (we will go to the community, we will validate every community that has a signatory),” she added.
The official explained that the free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) process for the project would proceed as scheduled except for two tribes that filed the petition against the dam project — Taloctoc of Tanudan and Malbong of Dupag, Tabuk City.
“Haan a pending kadagidiay awan ti petition [ti FPIC process] kasi dua lang ti mavalidate, diay bagi ti Malbong ken Taloctoc (We will not suspend [the FPIC process] in the areas with no petition, and validate only the [signatories] of the Malbong and Taloctoc),” she said.
To this, Edwin Liw-ag, chairperson of Timpuyog ti Mannalon ti Kalinga (Farmer’s Unity in Kalinga or TMK) retorted, “Saan a mabalin ken saan nga usto a daydiay tinudo lang ti NCIP ti makonsulta kasilpo ti proyekto. No matuloy a mabangon dayta a dam, maapektaran na met dagiti kabangibang a baryo. Managinbubukod ken mangipaay ti riribuk dayta kayatda a mapasamak (It should not be allowed, and it is not right that only those identified by the NCIP shall be consulted about the project. If the dam pushes through, all the adjacent barrios will be affected. What they [NCIP/project owners] want is exclusivity and strife [among the tribes people]).”
According to him, the river and the water are shared resources of the communities and the people. He stressed that every community that shall experience the impact should discuss anything that may affect these common resources.
Based on the copy of the document provided by TMK, those who signed the petition against the UTHPP included individuals from the Minanga, Naneng, Dallac, Biga, Tobog, Matucad and several tribe extensions locally called kulligong. The kulligongs who signed the appeal were from Isla (Basao), New Tanglag in the City of Tabuk, Matucad, Magaogao, and Pinukpuk of the municipality of Pinukpuk. Several barangays threatened by the project also affixed their signature in support of the campaign against the dam.
“Awan ti maymaysa a tribu a mabalin a mangikeddeng ti pakausaran dagitoy a kinabaknang, aglalo no awan ti nalawag a naikeddeng a bugis da iti sabali pay a tribu kasilpo dagiti maaramat a paset ti kadagaan (No single tribe has the monopoly of rights to decide how to utilize our shared resources especially when they have no territory recognized by other tribes),” Liw-ag said.
His sentiments refer to the Minanga’s unilateral decision to collaborate with DPJ Engineers and Constancy for the development of the hydroelectric dam project.
Signatories asserted in the petition that all affected communities be included in the consultation and FPIC process. They also noted irregularities in the identification of affected tribes and community assemblies conducted by the NCIP.
DPJ Engineers and Consultancy (DPJ), owned and headed by Engineer Daniel Peckley, Jr., proposed 10-17 megawatts hydroelectric project with the backing of several Minanga tribe leaders. They will build the 35.4 meter-high dam at Sitio Sabangan, Barangay Dupag, Tabuk City.
Ordered to investigate
The NCIP regional office ordered its provincial personnel to investigate the “legitimacy of the issues and concerns raised” by indigenous groups regarding the UTHPP after it received a petition.
“In the conduct of your validation/investigation, consider but not limit yourself to the following: authenticity of the signature and the legitimacy of the issues and concerns raised,” said the memorandum dated October 3 signed by NCIP-CAR Director Roland Calde.
The document also required the provincial personnel to inform the indigenous peoples’ group of the matter and have the concerned tribes “resolve the issues and concerns between and among themselves utilizing their dispute resolution customary practices.”
Calde also wrote the proponent, Engr. Daniel Peckley, Jr., manager and principal engineer of DPJ Engineers and Consultants. In the letter, the NCIP-CAR chief reminded the proponent of the “primacy of customary laws” in deciding the matter.
“The office proscribes your presence, and/or any act, that will and may intervene in the decision making of the concerned IPs/ICCs during the resolution of the issues and concerns raised in the petition,” Calde added.
In the petition, the signatories asserted that affected communities already rejected the project when it first attempted to secure their consent. They also noted that NCIP personnel failed to conduct the field base investigation (FBI) properly as prescribed under NCIP Administrative Order No. 03, series of 2012, or The Revised Guidelines on the Exercise of Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) and Related Processes.
“Then the pre-mature Pre-FPIC conference was held last June 15, 2019, at Golden Berries Hotel, Tabuk City, Kalinga, and simultaneously after, the conduct of community assemblies in the three ICCs, are manifestations of the violation of the FPIC process,” the petitioners added.
They warned of escalating conflict between the proponent and affected communities if the NCIP pushes through with the meetings.
“The second community assemblies conducted in Minanga and Malbong ICC last August 15 and 16, 2019, respectively, resulted in heated arguments between DPJ and the ICC members, is a concrete manifestation of the disagreements that would possibly worsen in the succeeding meetings,” said the signatories.
Hounded by questions
NCIP Kalinga said the neighboring tribes of Naneng, Malbong, and Taloctoc were the ones who recognized Minanga as an independent sub-tribe.
DPJ Engineers and Consultancy, the proponent of the project, claimed that the tribe sought their assistance to realize the construction of the UTHPP. People occupying the several villages in Dupag, Tabuk City like Minanga, Potao, Patiking, and Dupag Proper identify themselves as Minanga.
In November 2016, three neighboring sub-tribes, the Nananeng, Malbong, and Dallac, issued a resolution acknowledging the right of the Minangas to claim independence. The following year, the Dao-angan sub-tribe of Balbalan sealed a bodong or peace pact with the Minanga to assist them in their bid for recognition.
However, questions continue to hound NCIP’s position on recognizing the Minanga as an independent tribe to partake in the FPIC process. Several elders earlier questioned the assertions of the Minangas and the timing of their self-ascription with the UTHPP.
“Kasano nga ibagada a bigbigen dagiti kabangibang a tribu dayta Minanga ket saan pay met a nakibodong ti Taloctoc, Malbong ken Naneng a mother tribe kanyada. Ti bigbigen lang dagiti kabangibang nga ili a kabodong ken kabugis a ket ti Naneng (How can they say that neighboring tribes recognize Minanga when the Taloctoc, Malbong and its mother tribe Naneng have no peace pact with them. The neighboring tribes have only peace pact and clear boundaries with Naneng),” explained Danny Bangibang of Taloctoc tribe in Tanudan.
He said that several influential personalities and the government pushed for the revival and independence of Minanga to strengthen the proposal for the UTHPP.
“Saan pay a binigbig ti sibubukel nga i-Kalinga a naisisina a tribu ti Minanga. Manangallilaw dayta a duronda ken divisive kadagiti apektado a tribu. Uray ti intar dagiti Naneng ken Minanga ket dakkel ti impaayna a pannakagudwa-gudwa (The people of Kalinga have not completely acknowledged Minanga as an independent tribe. What they are doing is deceptive and divisive to the affected tribes. Even with the Naneng and Minanga, it has already caused division),” added Bangibang. # nordis.net / With report from Froilan Wanagon