Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pulangi 5 Exec Hits back VS. Critics, Opposition

By Ren Consul

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The proponents of the Pulangi V hydro-electric plant project in Bukidnon province are saying that they can’t help but suspect that the opposition to the project is at “the behest of the coal industry.”

The opposition however said that what they want is just “to protect the rights of indigenous people in their ancestral lands.”

The proponents also accuse opposition to the project of doing their “noise” in favor of the coal-fired power plants being proposed in Mindanao. The Pulangi V project is a 300mw hydro electric power plant which is designed to contribute clean and cheap energy to Mindanao which is now on serious power crises.

“They are very rabid in attacking the project and yet use suave and sophistication in promoting coal-fired power plants in Mindanao,” said Butch Baz, manager of the Pulangi V Project Management Office.

The Pulangi V project is currently on its pre-development phase. It is being implemented by the First Bukidnon Electric Cooperative (Fibeco) and the Greenergy Development Corporation.

He added that the opposition “make no comment or criticism on coal-fired power plants, they just re-echo its advantages even in their website,” this time referring to some posts on coal-fired power plants in the website of the Legal and Natural Resource Center (LRC), one of the major groups that opposed the.

In an interview with officials of the LRC, they said that their intervention in the communities affected by the Pulangi V project is specific to “legal and technical services and advocacy support to protect their right to self determination.”
“We respect and will not intervene in the internal tradition process of the Lumads in coming up with a united stand on the Pulangi V issue,” said Karl Cesar Rebuta, Program Officer of the LRC.

Wilmar “Datu Bong” Ampuan,chairperson of Natabuk a Lumad federation, meanwhile told The Daily Corridor that there is currently a consensus of the tribal leaders to hold continuing dialogue on the issue and allow the conduct of the Environmental Impact Study of the Pulangi V.
“Bisan supak ako niini, ako kining respetuhan nga kasabutan,” Ampuan said.

Baz however said that the meddling of LRC and other outside groups have complicated the issue.

A thing Rebuta also accuse the project proponent. “Tungod sa ilang pagsulod, nag away ang mga Lumad.”

To this, Baz countered, “and why are they also meddling? Why are they supporting Ampuan who is now isolated in the Lumad community for walking out in a dialogue sometime last July 2010, simply because his personal stand was not supported by the other tribal leaders?” Baz told The Corridor.
He added that except for isolated cases like the case of Ampuan, there is no problem with lumad communities “which will be at the center of development in the implementation of the Pulangi V project,” Baz said.

He added that it would be interesting to know where the non-government organizations (NGOs) opposing the project are getting their foreign funding to bankroll what looks like an expensive and well-oiled campaign machinery against the project.

“Where have they received funding for said stronger campaign against renewable energy?” he asked out loud.

Baz also said that its critique, “a certain Wilmar “Datu Bong” Ampuan is guilty of sowing disinformation and is just sourgraping for being rejected by his fellow lumads in the traditional process of resolving some disagreements over the project.”

And he claimed that Ampuan himself opted not to respect the process being done by lumad communities in the affected barangays of the Pulangi V project when he walked out in one of the tribal dialogues sometime in July 2010.

 “How can Ampuan be the voice of the lumads when he isolated himself from the traditional processes and he even does not know his numbers or are just using these for disinformation,” Baz said.

Baz added that the affected area based on project design is only about 3,000 hectares and affected communities only about 1,000 households which shall enjoy full compensation and relocation assistance. (with report from BenCyrus Ellorin/PNN)

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