Hedcor in a fix in Sabangan

>> Monday, October 24, 2016

Gina P. Dizon

SABANGAN, Mountain Province -- Following consultation last week at the town hall here on renewal of Hedcor’s expired  special land use permit (SLUP), residents said SLUP rentals should cover the town’s 15 barangays and that these be directly  paid to Sabangan.
This as calls for suspension on the energy plant’s operations until demands are met was called for by community folks as moved by community leader Rudy Mencion.
In said consultation attended by National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources and Hedcor , elder Melencia Desierto said payments  should benefit the town’s barangays and that rentals be directly  paid to them.
An SLUP was issued by DENR March of 2013 for barangays Napua and Namatec only and  expired  March 2016.  Rental fees of P87,030.90 for three years 2012 to 2015 representing SLUP covering 8.7 hectares was paid by Hedcor to DENR.
The SLUP is computed on the basis of 3% of the land and 1% of the value of improvements introduced in the area. 
Hedcor’s 14 megawatt hydro plant with a P1.8 billion cost began generation operations in 2015. Activities on the establishment of its energy plant located at barangays Napua and Namatec where the diversion dam and turbines are located respectively began in 2012. From Namatec  where the power house is located and transmission lines begin pass through barangays Losad, Gayang, Supang, Poblacion-Pingad, Busa, Kapinitan,Camatagan and  Baoangan leading to barangay Otukan of adjoining Bauko municipality where the wires are then connected to the power lines of National Grid Corp. of the Philippines.
The run-of-river hydropower project aims to  produce over 50 million kWhs of  clean energy annually.   
Resident Juniper Dominguez  claimed that a  3-meter fire hazard zone from transmission lines was not even included in the survey area covered in the SLUP.
In said consultation Mencion said that nearby parcels of land were not included in the survey in the coverage of SLUP.
Hedcor uses waters that flow from the watershed of Mt Kalawitan of Sabangan and from neaby Monamon Norte to the weir located at barangay Napua.
In a separate interview, NCIP regional director Roland Calde said survey of a project’s land use as hosted by a cultural community should be based on the “domain” and a separate one for private properties affected.
Also in a separate interview former NCIP regional director Amado Batay-an and current Provincial Administrator said the SLUP should require the Comprehensive  Land Use Plan (CLUP) of a community where the  project is being undertaken. 
NCIP provincial director Gladys Lasdacan said in a another interview the ancestral domain sustainable development and protection plan (ADSDPP) should be used as reference in projects introduced in communities.
An ancestral domain as covered by the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) says, “All areas generally belonging to ICCs/IPs comprising lands, inland waters, coastal areas, and natural resources therein to include ancestral lands, forests, pasture, residential, agricultural, and other lands…”
A petition forwarded to DENR and signed by nearly 500 residents of Sabangan including   former  mayor Jupiter  Dominguez, Sabangan resident and Episcopal Church of the Philippines (ECP) Prime Bishop  Renato Abibico; barangays chairmen  Jaime Awilan of  Busa,Saturnino Patnaan of Capinitan, Joni Omero of Lagan, Melchor  Baoidang of Namatec, Ireneo Pilacan of Poblacion, Tarcisius Damlag of Losad, and Roger  Dangsi of Baoangan called for payment of  rentals to  Sabangan and that rentals be equally divided among the town’s 15 barangays.
Said petition also called for basis of  1% improvements introduced in the host place as cited in the SLUP  be initially based on the P1.8 billion peso cost of the project.
Petitioners stated that conditions be incorporated in the memorandum of agreement between the indigenous cultural communities  of Sabangan and Hedcor. 
In said consultation Juniper Dominguez questioned legality of Hedcor’s operations saying the energy plant’s operations ‘illegal’  as it has no free prior and informed consent (FPIC) to substantially cover Sabangan’s cultural communities.
Juniper Dominguez and Richard Budod of the Napua Sabangan United Guides Association (NSUGAI) earlier posed the question – why only the IPs of Napua and Namatec are included in the FPIC process and not the whole 15 barangays of Sabangan- to the visiting members to the then  congressional committee chairman and congresswoman Nancy Catamco of Cotabato, and member- Representatives Carlos Padilla of Nueva Ecija, Noel Villanueva of Tarlac, Maximo Dalog of Mountain Province and Nicasio Aliping of Baguio City in 2014.
The ancestral domain of the indigenous peoples of Sabangan where the 14 megawatt hydro project is worked on show excavated slopes of Tinmakudo Mountain in Napua which would affect access roads to the intake weir at the other side of the Mt Kalawitan area.
Construction saw the throwing of debris and earth spoils including tree saplings down the Chico River with adjoining barangays Napua, Namatec, Gayang, Losad, Poblacion, and Lagan; including barangays where transmission lines pass.
The 2012 revised FPIC guidelines refer to the ancestral domain  as the impact area. 
“Project impact  is not simply the physical sites but should consider the holistic impact”, Indigenous peoples rights advocate Florence Umaming, member of the technical working group in the drafting of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) said in a separate interview.
Hedcor through NCIP only consulted Namatec and Napua when it underwent FPIC under a so-called Tinmakudo Tribe which underwent criticism whether there is such tribe or not.   
The so called Tinmakudo tribe was coined  as facilitated by NCIP when the four barangays-Busa, Capinitan, Namatec and Napua- filed their application for a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) in 2009 considering their  non- presence of boundary conflicts made them recipient of an NCIP- World Bank funded project to delineate applications for ancestral land titles.
Former NCIP regional director Batayan  said the central office of NCIP has not yet resolved the issue on the coverage of affected  people to consult on projects in a targeted indigenous peoples area.


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