May 27, 2024

The city council, has required Kaltimex Energy Philippines, Inc. to submit conclusive documents to convince the city council that the company has the capability to rehabilitate and operate the three city-owned mini-hydropower plants located at Asin, Tuba, Benguet.
The company was given two weeks to submit to the council a letter signifying their interest to undertake the project, a document reflecting their financial capability, their six-month time table for the project, and the company’s updated profile.
Chaired by Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda, the city council committee on laws, human rights, and justice will evaluate these documents and present their findings to the council.
Whether or not the contract between the city government and Kaltimex should be terminated is a decision the city council will make, Tabanda said.
In 2018, the city government under then Mayor Mauricio Domogan sued Kaltimex due to the latter’s failure to fulfill its obligations. However, a compromise agreement was signed in February 2020 between the city government under the current administration and Kaltimex.
As part of the agreement, Kaltimex paid the liquidated damages worth P3.6 million and reimbursed the city government’s filing fee of P605,000.
Upon the court’s approval of the compromise agreement, the city government issued Kaltimex a Notice to Proceed in February 2020.
On Oct. 19, 2020, Mayor Benjamin Magalong requested the council to pass a resolution terminating the contract on the ground that Kaltimex failed again to commence the project. To date, the three power plants remain unoperational.
Tabanda said according to the City General Services Office, it will take one and a half to two years to re-bid the project under the private-public partnership in compliance with the Procurement Law.
Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan said due process must be followed before the city government finally decides on the termination of the contract. The council invited Kaltimex for a forum.
Olowan, however, said non-submission of documents required by the council is a good ground to terminate the contract with Kaltimex.
Kaltimex project manager Engr. Juris Awal said the restrictions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic hindered the company from conducting preliminaries such as bringing in project consultants and skilled workers to the city.
“We cannot do this project alone. We need to import accredited workers, and bringing them here has been a challenge due to the current situation,” Awal said.
Awal said the company sent letters to the executive department starting Aug. 8, 2020, stating the company’s interest to continue with the project and requesting for a joint inspection on the site.
In his letter to Tabanda dated Nov. 23, 2020, Awal wrote “the joint inspection could have presented a suggested procedure on how the assessment will be undertaken for enhanced recording and monitoring. The joint inspection is indispensable so that Kaltimex and the city government could have mutually recorded the actual condition of the hydro facilities, its machineries, and equipment.”
Awal added the physical possession of the facilities should have been completed had the joint inspection been granted and scheduled.
The council said it will invite Mayor Benjamin Magalong in one of its sessions to thresh the whole matter out after evaluating the documents to be submitted by Kaltimex. – Jordan G. Habbiling