Members of an indigenous group in Northern Luzon on Tuesday marched to the US Embassy on Roxas Boulevard in Manila to protest the non- release of their shares from a power plant located in Pelaway, Alfonso Castañeda, Nueva Vizcaya.
Saying they have been fighting for 19 years, Bugkalot tribal chiefs and their followers demanded their shares from the operation of the power plant being operated by CalEnergy Water and Energy Co., Inc. (Cecweci) the firm that manages the Casecnan Multi-Purpose Irrigation Power Plant.
American multibillionaire Warren Buffet owns CalEnergy though a holding-company known as Des Moines based in Berkshire Hathaway.
The marchers reached the US Embassy at 8:30 a.m.
After a short, peaceful program, they proceeded to Mendiola Bridge where they continued their rally.
Bugkalot communities are found in the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino and Aurora.
They are estimated to number more than 15,000.
Nagtipunan (Quirino) Mayor Rosario Camma said they are entitled to shares from sales of energy and water for irrigation under Administrative Order 248 signed by then-President Fidel V. Ramos.
The dam was one of the Ramos administration’s quick solutions to power shortage at the time.
It was learned that the firm is diverting a huge amount of water to Pantabangan Dam, which supplies water to Metro Manila.
The project was started in 1995 under the build-operate-transfer scheme, a program designed to irrigate more than 50,000 hectares and produce 140 megawatts of power.
Camma said the project failed to irrigate the farmlands in the three provinces and not a single megawatt of electricity was released to their electric cooperative.
She added that the Casecnan River has dried up.
The mayor urged President Benigno Aquino 3rd to intervene and allow the re- lease of 10 percent of water to the rivers.
The American firm built a 26-kilometer underground tunnel that diverts water from Taang and Casecnan rivers in Nueva Vizcaya to the Pantabangan reservoir.