Issue of October 8, 2017
Mt. Province

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Moratorium on water rights, permits issuance in CAR sought
by Jane B. Cadalig

Here’s a move that will challenge government agencies’ ability to balance the interests of indigenous peoples and investors.

The Board of Directors of the Benguet Electric Cooperative sought the help of Cordillera’s highest policy-making body in putting a stop to the issuance of water rights and service contracts to entities intending to put up hydro plants unless would-be host communities have given their consent.

In a resolution, the Beneco board asked the Cordillera Regional Development Council (RDC) to request the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) and the Department of Energy to declare a moratorium on the issuance of water rights and hydroelectric development permits in the region, except to the communities who have been host to these resources since time immemorial, electric cooperatives covered by funds, and local government units.

“The proliferation of water rights and hydro-electric plant development by and for giant and foreign-led companies continues to be an irritant between them and residents of host communities who are often the last to know that their water resources have become the subject of water rights of outsiders out to develop them,” the resolution reads.

The Beneco board also asked the RDC to request the NWRB and the DOE to first obtain the endorsement of the would-be host region, province, and host community before approving applications for water rights and energy development in the Cordillera and cancel rights and permits for energy development if these are opposed by the would-be host communities and LGUs.

Existing guidelines in the issuance of water rights and service contracts for energy development provides that the free prior and informed consent (FPIC) consultations with host communities will be done after the permit to develop and the water rights have been issued.

DOE-Luzon Officer-in-Charge Reynaldo Ligamor said the DOE serves as the partners of energy developers and therefore helps facilitate the process by which investors acquire the requirements.

Echoing the stand of Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi, Ligamor said: “The DOE should not make it burdensome for proponents of energy development. We should not be the stumbling block in the development of renewable energy projects in the country.”

He said the request for NWRB and DOE to issue a moratorium on the issuance of water rights and service contracts and cancel those that were already issued but are met by oppositions must be studied carefully.

Ligamor said the DOE is strengthening field offices to allow the agency to address issues between hydro project proponents and the communities, among the other concerns raised against the office.

He said the DOE is working on the putting up of a satellite office in the Cordillera.

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PRO-Cor awards best offices 2017

Albergo Hotel and Residences
Baguio Country Club
University of Baguio
Venus Parkview Hotel

Baguio Central University
Benguet Electric Cooperative Inc.
Cong. Mark O. Go
Cong. Ronald Cosalan
Department of Education – CAR
Department of Health – CAR
Gov. Crescencio Pacalso
Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company
Narda’s and Sunflower Ridge
National Grid Corporation of the Philippines
Pines City Colleges
Sangguniang Panlungsod
SM City Baguio
University of the Philippines Baguio

Assumption Medical and Diagnostic Center
Baguio Center Mall
Baguio Water District
BSBT College, Inc.
Bureau of Internal Revenue
BVS Colleges
C &Triple A Supermart
Councilor Edgar M. Avila
Curamed Pharmacy
Department of Environment and Natural Resources – CAR
Department of Interior and Local Government – CAR
Department of Public Works and Highways – CAR
Fabulo Beauty and Image Salon
Far East Pacific Commercial
Filipino–Japanese Foundation of Northern Luzon, Inc.
GMS Technology
John Hay Management Corporation
King’s College of the Philippines
La Funeraria Paz, Inc.
Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan
Mother Earth Deli Basket
Overseas Workers Welfare Administration – CAR
Philex Mining Corporation
Police Regional Office – CAR
STI Baguio

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