Issue of July 9, 2017
Mt. Province

69th Courier Anniversary Issue
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Kibungan IPs to decide fate of 500 MW hydro
by Ofelia C. Empian

VIGILANCE -- Benguet Rep. Ronald Cosalan has reminded the community in Kibungan during one of its assemblies as part of the FPIC process to carefully consider all aspects of the proposed 500-megawatt pump storage hydro power plant to be built in Barangay Badeo by the Coheco-Badeo Corporation before making their final decision on the project. -- Peter Guibac


Residents of Kibungan, Benguet are about to make their decision as the next phase of the ongoing free prior and informed consent (FPIC) process in the municipality for the proposed Coheco-Badeo 500 megawatt pumped storage hydro power plant.

National Commission on Indigenous Peoples-Benguet Legal Officer Severino Lumiqued said the seven barangays of Kibungan already underwent the last leg of its second community assembly on July 5 in Barangay Poblacion where the proponents provided disclosure of the project worth $500 million.

Lumiqued said after the community assembly, the consensus building will now commence.

“The consensus building will commence not less than 10 days from today and not more than two months from today,” he said.

He said the residents would then decide, through their customary ways, if they will accept the project or not during consensus building.

He added residents, mostly indigenous peoples, would conduct consensus building in the seven barangays of Kibungan from which they will consolidate their decisions to come up with one decision on the project.

Albert Mayamnes, Kibungan’s indigenous peoples mandatory representative, said the council of elders, together with the residents will talk among themselves on their observations as the perceived impact and benefits of the project to the community.

“We will have to assess the impact of the project based on their presentations, if it will be for our own good or not,” Mayamnes said.

He also sits as the chairman of the board of the Kibungan Kankanaey Ancestral Domain Tribe Organization, which is the recognized indigenous peoples group in the town.

Kibungan Mayor Cesar Molitas, meanwhile, said as of the moment, the local government unit has not received any opposition to the proposed project to be set up in Barangay Badeo.

“It will ultimately depend on the decision of the people,” Molitas said.

The proposed 500-megawatt pumped storage project in Kibungan is capable of producing 1,032,000,000 kilowatts per hour a year with a maximum lifespan of 50 years.

The project, once completed, is a potential reliable back-up source of electricity during maintenance shutdown by major independent power producers such as Sual Coal Power Plant and Malampaya Biogas Power Plant.

Earlier, Coheco Badeo Corp. signed an agreement with China Energy Engineering Group Guangxi Hydroelectric Construction Bureau Co. Ltd., one of China’s biggest integrated construction enterprises.

Coheco and Guangxi Hydroelectric Constructions Bureau Co. Ltd. signed a memorandum of understanding as a gesture that there is a reputable investor for the project. If things materialize, the two companies will sign a memorandum of agreement on shareholder agreement.

A source close to Coheco Badeo major shareholder Larry Howon Kim, meanwhile, denied suspicions that the Korean’s share from Coheco 60-megawatt project in Kapangan, Benguet has been diluted, saying that Kim still has the voice over the project. However, one of the two Filipino investors for the Coheco 60 has not been delivering his commitments.

“We also need to clarify that preparatory works for Coheco 60 in Kapangan is ongoing, reason that the company has set up a field office there to oversee the effective implementation of the project,” the source said.

The source also allayed fears that commitments entered into between the community and Coheco Badeo 500 will be honored by future investors since any agreement is treated as a promise from an entity (Coheco Badeo) not from an individual such as Kim.

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