BENGUET Gov. Crescensio Pacalso and a municipal chief executive said they will remain neutral and will not endorse any company making a bid for the proposed 45-megawatt mini-hydroelectric project in scenic Kabayan town.
Instead, they added, they will let the people decide on the matter.
Kabayan Mayor Gideon Todiano said the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples is now conducting a Free Prior and Informed Consent (PFIC) process regarding the project.
As part of the FPIC process, the NCIP led a series of community assemblies in various villages in Kabayan town in relation to the proposed hydro power plant project of Hedcor Cordillera Inc. within the Nalatang River.
“I will not endorse any company planning to develop the water resources of Kabayan, I will depend on the decision of the people,” Todiano said.
He called on companies and other interested parties to observe the required processes and not use any unacceptable means such as bribery to influence the affected individuals.
As far as the provincial government is concerned, Pacalso said, ”The residents of Kabayan and nearby affected municipalities would be the ones to decide if they would support the proposed project and who [company]would be the better choice.”
He added, “We will have to support the project provided there is no destructive effect on the environment and the community.”
Both local officials, however, urged the people of Kabayan and neighboring municipalities directly affected by the proposed project to participate in various FPIC activities and community assemblies that the NCIP is conducting.
NCIP officials said the conduct of FPIC is a necessary requirement for the proposed project as well as the participation of the affected people, particularly the indigenous peoples of Kabayan.
They reiterated that the FPIC process is important because it forms part of the decision on whether the people would like to push through with the project.