NCIP execs face raps for bogus FPIC, fraud
Residents of Apayao filed cases at the Ombudsman against executives and personnel of NCIP, Pan Pacific Renewable Power Philippines, Corp. and Kabugao town officials for falsification of documents and corruption over the proposed 150-megawatt Gened-1 hydroelectric power pro-ject.
The complainants are residents of Kabugao, namely Warling Maludon, Myla Aluba, Pedro Dandan, Vernancio Culdong, Bernarda Gumidam, Cariaga Pallat, and Angel Umingli and are represented by the Cortes Law Office.
The case was filed against NCIP Chair Allen Capuyan, NCIP-Cordillera Acting Director Atanacio Addog, former NCIP-Cordillera Director Marlon Bosantog, and Geoffry Calderon among other NCIP personnel; Kabugao Vice Mayor Fabulous Tucjang and Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative John Anthony Amid, among others; and the Pan Pacific represented by Allee Lourdes Sun.
The respondents were accused of violating the NCIP Administrative Order 3-2012; violating Section 59 of Republic Act 8371; the acts defined under Sec. 19 of RA 6770 or the Ombudsman Act of 1989; and acts defined under Sec. 3 of RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The complainants said the respondents ignored the policies under NCIP Administrative Order 3-2012, which provides for the guidelines for the conduct of free informed and prior consent (FPIC) process.
The complainants assailed the composition of the FPIC team which was purely composed of employees of NCIP-Cordillera and NCIP-Apayao excluding two indigenous peoples elders/leaders supposedly selected by the community as part of the team.
On April 7, 2017, the first consultative community assembly with the Isnag ethnic group for the Gened 1 was held at the Kabugao municipal gym. These elders were selected and validated and should be the deciding body for the Isnag indigenous cultural community of Kabugao for the Gened 1 project.
The complainants said the IP elders/leaders, with the Kabugao Isnag IPs, rejected the Gened 1 three times. Despite this, the respondents insisted on the proposed project by continuously calling for assemblies to convince the community to give favorable action.
“When respondents cannot get the ‘yes’ votes from the Isnag indigenous community, they then caused the falsification of several community resolutions, per barangay, making it appear the Isnag community is open for negotiation, and that they are authorizing those that were listed therein as their elders,” the complainants stated.
This resulted in the scrapping of previously selected elders, and with the alleged falsified community resolutions, it appointed new IP elders to represent the community. The complainants said the newly appointed IP elders were used to favor the Gened 1.
Also, the complainants assailed the action of Bosantog who declared the Jan. 15, 2021 resolution of non-consent void and not binding since out of the signatories, only a few of them are authorized elders.
Further, the complainants said the respondents conducted the activities outside of the affected ancestral domain such as the consensus building on March 14, 2019 at the Hotel Carmelita, Tuguegarao City, Cagayan, the Jan. 17, 2020 initial negotiation of the Gened 1 project at Hotel Ivory in Tuguegarao City, and a local government unit-sponsored meeting on Feb. 19, 2020 at the Sala Hotel, San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte that were attended by the res-pondents.
The complainants said the NCIP-Cordillera review team found irregularities on the submitted FPIC report by the FPIC team.
Also, the FPIC team, instead of complying with the initial observations of the regional review team, conducted the reading of the draft memorandum of agreement and claimed there was posting of notices in conspicuous places on July 16, 2021. However, the regional review team found there was no posting conducted by the FPIC team.
The complainants said despite the observations and recommendations raised by the regional review team in their reports, the NCIP officials ignored them and recommended instead for the issuance of certification precondition.
From the recommendation, the NCIP en banc issued Resolution 08-051-2021 for the approval of the issuance of a certification precondition for the Pan Pacific project.
Negotiations between the Isnags and Pan Pacific with the FPIC team continued from March to April 2021, where Kabugao Mayor Bensmar Ligwang asked for one month to review the draft memorandum of agreement.
The community then convened at the Kabugao gym on April 19, 2021 to review the draft MOA, however there were no copies of the MOA given to the community and the mayor, thus no review happened.
The complainants said the NCIP officials allegedly attached falsified community resolutions which were done not as a community of an ancestral domain but per barangay of Kabugao.
These falsified community resolutions are now the subject of separate criminal cases and Ombudsman cases earlier filed before the Provincial Prosecutor of Apayao and Ombudsman.
Despite the unresolved motion for reconsideration on the MOA filed by the members of Isnag community before the NCIP en banc, the complainants said the respondents are still pushing for the implementation of the Gened 1 dam project. – Ofelia C. Empian