Members the indigenous peoples of Kabugao, Apayao reiterated their rejection of the construction of the 150 megawatt Gened 1 Hydro Electric Power Plant (HEPP) of the Pan Pacific Renewable Power Philippines Corporation (PPRPC) within the former provincial capital.
In Resolution 2, series of 2021 signed recently, the IPs declared “all negotiations pertinent thereto null and void with the memorandum of agreement signed in between and by the leaders and elders of Kabugao, Apayao and the Pan Pacific representative,” which they said is in violation of the Indigenous Peoples Right Act of 1997.
The resolution signed by 71 members of the Isneg IP group from Kabugao stemmed from several alleged violations of both the proponent and the local government unit among which is their interference in the supposed meeting set by the IPs among themselves for them to decide whether they will approve the put up of the dam at barangay Waga in said town.
This was the agreement during a meeting held last April 7 wherein the IPs rejected calls for immediate approval of the project and immediately sign the MOA and that they were given a month or on May 7 to submit their decision.
The IPs who agreed during said meeting and on the request of Kabugao mayor Bensmar Ligwang that a month to review the MOA was needed but it “was not followed despite being acknowledged and accepted during the previous meeting (April 7);…”
It was on April 19 when Ligwang invited all Kabugao IP members including elders, leaders, youth and other persons for the review of the said MOA “intendedly without the presence of Pan Pacific and NCIP (National Commission on Indigenous Peoples) Management in order for the IP community to have a free discussion on the provision of the drafted MOA;…”
They said that upon learning of the said meeting, Apayao Rep. Elias Bulut, Jr. asked the mayor to include the proponent in said review.
On April 20, the resolution added, that Pan Pacific hauled barangay members and selected IP leaders and elders to the EKB barangay hall and have them sign the MOA in the presence of Rep. Bulut and vice gov. Remy Albano “totally disregarding the agreed period of one month to review the said MOA;…”
Apayao has 22 barangays of which Waga is the second smallest with only 212 souls as population. It shares borders with five Kabugao barangays, two Apayao towns including the capital Flora and Santo Nino, in the nearby Cagayan province. Barangay EKB, named after the late Gov. and Rep. Elias K. Bulut, Sr., was only created in 2017.
On April 21, the resolution added that Luttucan barangay chairman Levino Mayodong “personally confessed to the general public how the signing of the drafted MOA was undue influence compelling him and the selected IP leaders/elders, barangay captains and IPMRs (Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative) of the selected barangays to sign the drafted MOA without further explanation and without reading nor showing the drafted MOA;…”
The signatories claimed that both proponent and the NCIP “have repeatedly ignored and overlooked the firm stance of the IP of Kabugao, Apayao and have on several occasions controlled the consultation meeting and disregarding the process in violation of the statutory right to free and prior informed consent of the IPs;…”
Earlier, Kabugao IPs said that a dam that threatens to destroy their unity and cultural identity and is not their priority.
Instead, they want the documentation of their indigenous political structure (IPS) and the registration of their indigenous people’s organization (IPO).
The IPs said this in Resolution 01 signed earlier this year wherein they expressed their strong opposition on the proposed dam.
In said resolution, the IPs are also withdrawing their earlier “Yes to negotiation only” from continuing the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process.
The IPs stated that that they now fully know and understood the advantages as well as the disadvantages of the proposed 150 MW dam.
They added: “The proposed 150 (MW) HEPP project is never our priority in our Ancestral Domain.”
“The dam is undoubtedly perilous to our culture and values of oneness, our life and limb, our properties or our ancestral and the like, ” the IPs expressed in the resolution.