December 7, 2022

The Isnag elders of Kabugao ancestral domain in Apayao have declared officials of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples-Cordillera and a power generation company persona non grata in their territory. 

In a resolution, the elders declared NCIP-Cordillera Director Marlon Bosantog, Free Prior Informed Consent team leader Atanacio Addog, Pan Pacific Renewable Power Philippines Corporation (PPRPPC) and its agents as persona non grata in the ancestral domain of Kabugao. 

The elders said they have rejected the proposed 150-megawatt Gened Dam 1 hydroelectric power project by the PPRPPC on three separate occasions through community consultative assemblies and accused Bosantog and Addog of overturning their decision. The elders said they have rejected the proposed dam on Feb. 4, 2019; Sept. 26, 2019; and Jan. 15, 2021.

“Bosantog and Addog, using their authority as civil servants, wittingly and feloniously colluded to maneuver in setting aside and overturning our rejection which resulted to the memorandum of agreement supposedly signed by the handpicked indigenous peoples in Kabugao ancestral domain they later called as IP elders/leaders,” the resolution reads.

The elders also said the NCIP officials made to reflect authorization were given by the Kabugao ancestral domain holders to the handpicked IPs to negotiate, sign the MOA, and consent to the power company on their behalf.

The Isnag elders said their signatures in the community resolutions were forged, which they earlier called out and affirmed to the NCIP-Cordillera through submission of affidavits.

The elders have accused the NCIP officials of lawyering before the NCIP commission en banc on the legitimacy of the community resolutions and that the FPIC process was followed.

They claimed this is despite the observations of the NCIP-CAR regional review team, NCIP ancestral domain office, and NCIP Legal Affairs Office of the forged signatures supposedly giving authority to the handpicked IPs as negotiators and signatories to the MOA.

They alleged the acts of Bosantog and Addog in facilitating the issuance of certificate of precondition in favor to PPRPC has caused division and conflict among the Isnag community within the ancestral domain of Kabugao.

The elders also recommended for the Kabugao municipal government to adopt their resolution.

In 2016, the PPRPC applied for a certificate of precondition for its proposed 150-MW Gened 1 mega dam, which was required for the company to undergo mandatory FPIC process with the affected community in Kabugao under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act.   

The commission en banc, the highest decision-making body of the NCIP, has recently gave its verbal approval for the certification precondition of the Gened 1 project, which will rise within Kabugao and Tawit ancestral domains.

The NCIP issues a certificate of precondition to project proponents who seek to enter and use resources within indigenous cultural communities. The document is a proof that the IPs gave their consent after going through the mandatory FPIC process. – Ofelia C. Empian