Issue of July 8, 2018
Mt. Province

70th Courier Anniversary Issue
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IPs given green light to 500-MW Kibungan hydro
by Ofelia C. Empian

Indigenous communities through their elders and leaders and the Coheco Badeo Corporation have recently signed a memorandum of agreement that paves the way for the construction of a 500-megawatt pumped storage hydro project in Kibungan, Benguet.

The MOA signed on July 2 by Coheco Badeo Corporation was represented by its chairman of the board Howon Kim; the NCIP represented by its chairperson Atty. Leonor Oralde-Quintayo; the Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples of the Ancestral Domain of Kibungan, Benguet; and the Kibungan Kankana-ey Ancestral Domain Tribe Organization (Kkadtribo) represented by its chairman Albert Mayamnes.

In the MOA, the parties agreed to have a detailed benefit sharing provision, such as the entitlement of financial benefits of the host ICCs/IPs and the Kkadtribo during the construction and operation periods of the project by the hydro firm.

The financial benefit for the first year of construction period shall be released within six months from the issuance of the certificate of confirmation of commerciality by the Department of Energy. The financial benefit shall also be given a year after and the succeeding years until the five-year construction is completed.

The yearly financial benefits for the operation period shall also be released within the first 15 days of the succeeding year.

The MOA also states that P1.6 million from the yearly financial benefits for the construction and operation periods shall be allocated by the Kkadtribo for educational assistance of Kibungan students. The amount will be directly released to the group’s account with the agreement of NCIP based on the community royalty development plan (CRDP) to be formulated by the community.

Also stated in the MOA is the conduct of development projects based on the priorities of the community as stated in their CRDP.

The implementation of the MOA shall also be monitored by a joint monitoring team to be created by the NCIP-Cordillera upon the issuance of the certificate of precondition. It shall be headed by an NCIP representative with members from the municipal local government unit, IP elders or leaders of Kibungan or the municipal indigenous peoples mandatory representative, representative from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, representative from the proponent, and representative from the Kkadtribo.

The community and the hydro firm also agreed to conduct mitigation and resettlement plans for potential risks.

“The proponent ensures that no IPs will be displaced as the areas where the project components will be constructed and its immediate peripheries are uninhabited. It shall endeavor to adopt measures to mitigate whatever adverse effects the construction and operation of the project may cause to the land, air, water and people,” the MOA reads.

The proponent shall also strictly comply with the environmental impact assessment and environmental compliance certificate.

The MOA also states that a grievance committee shall be created by NCIP-Cordillera upon the issuance of the certificate of precondition to be responsible for addressing any conflict that may arise.

The proponent and the community also agreed for the non-transferability of the MOA, renegotiation of its economic provisions and defined the role of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) in case of total transfer of rights.

The MOA states that Coheco shall construct the project within six months from the issuance of the certificate of confirmation of commerciality by the DOE; it shall construct and operate based from nationally and internationally accepted standards as well as applicable laws; it shall always observe safety; initiate measures to protect existing forests, watershed areas found not only within the area of the hydro project but to all other barangays within the ancestral domain of Kibungan.

Also, Coheco is mandated to give employment preference to qualified residents of Kibungan such as professionals, skilled persons and laborers; give preference to qualified local contractors who have acquired business permit from Kibungan to undertake project related works within their communities; give preference in using local materials that passed quality standards.

Coheco shall also refrain from proposing the development of other renewable energy sources within the Kibungan ancestral domain until the project is completed.

The company shall adopt measures to protect the community from illegal and irresponsible mining activities; coordinate with the community in its implementation of its corporate social responsibility programs; provide capacity building and skills training to the community within six months from signing of the MOA; provide yearly counterpart educational assistance through its CSR; and to faithfully comply with all the terms and conditions of the MOA.

The host ICCs/IPs, on the other hand, shall allow the proponent to conduct further studies in relation to its project over their ancestral domain including soil investigation; environmental, cultural,  and social studies; and other studies relevant to the hydro project even before the issuance of the certificate of precondition.

The host communities shall also allow the construction of the project and its smooth operation, that it is their duty as well to protect and preserve existing communal forests in their respective barangays that are critical to the operation of the hydro plant; and they shall refrain from committing acts that would sabotage the construction and operation of the project. 

Further, the ICCs/IPs are expected to account all funds received from the proponent; commit to amicably resolve disputes between and among themselves;

The Kkadtribo, meanwhile, shall help mediate in the amicable settlement of disputes that may arise during the construction and operation of the project; and manage and account all funds received from the proponent.

The MOA shall take effect once the certificate of precondition by the NCIP is issued until the expiration of the service contract of the proponent with the DOE.

The 500-megawatt pumped storage hydro project has a projected annual power generation output of 1,032,000-kilowatt hours.

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