Tuba dads to negotiate with Asin hydro firm

>> Friday, June 3, 2016

By Dexter A. See

TUBA, Benguet -- Incumbent and newly-elected municipal officials want the winning developer of the city-owned Asin hydro power plants to negotiate with affected land owners and host communities to avert complications of their operations.      Board member-elect and incumbent Mayor Florencio Bentrez said the municipal government received several invitations from Baguio City Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan for municipal and city officials to have a dialogue in relation to the renewed operation of the city-owned Asinminihydro power plants but they have not heeded the request considering that the contract for the winning developer, Kaltimex Energy Philippines, has yet to be confirmed by the city council.
 While they appreciate the efforts of Mayor Domogan to reach out to Tuba municipal officials for a dialogue, Bentrez said Tuba officials want to directly negotiate with the winning bidder because the developer can commit whatever benefits will be due to host communities and even to the municipal government.
“We have laid out three conditions for hydro developers in our locality to strictly adhere to. One is that there should be no diversion of the water in the river system desired to be developed, he affected land owners should be duly compensated and that issues and concerns should be addressed and the endorsements of the affected barangays should also be secured,” Bentrez said.
Vice Mayor Clarita Sal-ongan said the municipal council also received similar invitations from Mayor Domogan for a dialogue but it was a collective decision of the municipal council to await the decision of the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) on the transfer of the water rights from the Baguio Water District (BWD) to the city government which the municipality has previously opposed.
Sal-ongan said the municipal council has not yet received any request from the winning developer of the Asinminihydro power plants for dialogues and consultations relative to their supposed operation to date.
Bentrez said the issue on Goldlink Global Energy Philippines which the municipal government endorsed its application for the development of hydro power plants along the Asin River and the city-owned Asin hydro power plants must be treated separately although their operations are situated in a similar river system.
Incumbent Councilor and Mayor-elect Ignacio Rivera said interested developers of hydro power plants in the locality must strictly adhere to conditions of free and prior informed consent under Republic Act (RA) 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples rights Act (IPRA) because the consent of the host communities and the affected indigenous peoples will be instrumental in ensuring their smooth operations in the future.
Rivera said proponents of hydro power plants must first seek the consent of the indigenous peoples to be affected by their operations so that their projects will not encounter stiff opposition once they start their development works in their identified areas of operation.


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