June 21, 2024

The Isnags of Kabugao, Apayao have overturned the decision of another group of indigenous peoples who gave their consent to the proposed construction of hydro power plants in their ancestral domain (AD).
The IPs of Kabugao Ancestral Domain have nullified the decision of what they call “IP dealers” who were gathered by a team from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples-Cordillera on Dec. 18, 2021 to vote in favor of the proposed construction of Gened Dam 2 by Pan Pacific Renewable Power Philippines Corp.
The group said it called for another assembly to give the other IPs of Kabugao the chance to participate in a genuine decision-making process, one it said the Free Prior and Informed Consent team from NCIP failed to achieve when it conducted a “closed-door” consensus-building process among those who were chosen to endorse the project.
“The Kabugao Ancestral Domain vehemently deplore and nullify the closed-door consensus-building process done last Dec. 18, 2021 at Barangay Luttuacan, as the same was orchestrated and was wittingly warranted by NCIP to constrain the participation of the community and did not mirror Kabugao AD’s collective decision-making process,” the resolution passed on Dec. 23, 2021 stated.
The IPs added they issued notices and announced the conduct of the Dec. 23, 2021 assembly to all concerned IPs of Kabugao to be fully informed and participate in the decision-making process. A representative from the NCIP also took part in the assembly.
The IPs said they were issuing the resolution of non-consent to the project because Pan Pacific did not act in good faith from the start of the FPIC process for Gened Dam 1 and Gened Dam 2.
This is aside from the division the project caused resulting from violence, intimidation, and coercion between and among the ancestral domain holders.
“Pan Pacific, along with the FPIC team continuously and wittingly divorce participation of the ancestral domain holders by using handpicked elders as the sole holders of authority to decide, a complete disregard of the Kabugao AD’s customs and traditions of collective decision-making,” the resolution, signed by more than a thousand individuals, added.
The IPs added they were issuing the resolution of non-consent to Gened Dam 2 since the complaints and motion for reconsideration regarding the non-compliance by the NCIP of the FPIC process and the falsification and forging of signatures lodged with the NCIP en banc is yet to be resolved.
They added they fear the imminent environmental and cultural degradation of the Isnag communities of Kabugao due to the dams’ construction, among these the inundation of their ancestral lands and burial grounds and the extinction of several species in their ancestral domain.
In the same assembly, the IPs declared NCIP-Apayao Legal Affairs Officer Geoffry Calderon persona no grata, in addition to former NCIP-CAR director Marlon Bosantog and Regional Legal Officer and former FPIC team leader Atanacio Addog who were earlier declared unwelcome for barring the IPs from participating in the Dec. 18, 2021 consensus-building process.
The Sangguniang Kabataan Federation of Kabugao also earlier condemned the NCIP for its “clandestine and surreptitious mind conditioning and brainwashing of the IP youth to unduly influence the conduct and result of the FPIC process for the Gened dams.”
The youth group members said they were invited by the NCIP to be oriented on the Isnag’s customary practices and traditions vis-à-vis the obligation of the youth to respect the decision of their community leaders, but the meeting turned into a campaign and mind conditioning on the Gened dams issue.
“(It was a) blatant (act of) brainwashing the participants to favorably submit to the project by muffling them despite the glaring violations of the FPIC process, which until today NCIP failed to address. We express our disappointment in the manner the event was conducted,” the Kabugao SK Federation said in a manifesto.
The youth group reiterated its stand against the resolutions that authorized handpicked IP leaders that consented to Gened Dam 1 despite violations of the FPIC process.
The faculty and staff members of the Apayao Community Learning Center also issued earlier a manifesto expressing their support to the stand of the IPs against the construction of the Gened dams.
“We have moral, social, and cultural obligations to the people of Kabugao and as an educational institution, we have a greater responsibility to the younger generation. We are not against development and advancement as insisted by the proponents, but not at the expense of our ancestral domain. We call on the government agency mandated to protect the rights of the IPs to uphold the genuine observance of the FPIC process,” the manifesto stated. – Jane B. Cadalig