December 8, 2022

Officials of Barangay Maligcong in Bontoc, Mountain Province are asking the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples-Cordillera to intervene over the illegal construction of a water works project in their area without prior consultation.

Maligcong punong barangay John Lacayen wrote a letter to NCIP-Cordillera Director Marlon Bosantog on April 29 stating the villagers’ strong opposition against the water works project within their domain.

Lac-ayen said they also submitted a petition letter on Dec. 21, 2020 to then Bontoc District Engineer Alexander Castañeda but they did not receive a response from him.

He said some residents of Barangay Caluttit have been illegally building a water tank in Sitio Fomangil and they were only made aware of the construction in December 2020.

“We consider the project as illegal because it was built without the prior and informed consent of the i-Maligcong. We denounce and condemn in the strongest and deepest degree the covert manner of having the water tank project built,” Lac-ayen stated.

He said the project is also being constructed under the administration of the Department of Public Works and Highways Bontoc District.

“The i-Maligcong never attended any consultation about the project, let alone granted any permission for DPWH contractors to build any structure within our barangay,” he said.

Lac-ayen said that as early as 2014 and 2015, Maligcong villagers have unanimously and firmly expressed strong opposition to any attempt by any individual or entity in tapping their water sources. 

“Our reason is moral, ethical, ecological and economic – we ourselves need the water in Fomangil,” he said.

He also said there was gross misrepresentation or entries in the project, as records of the Bontoc District Engineer’s Office indicate that the project is located in Barangay Caluttit, Barangay Bontoc Ili, and Barangay Pob-lacion, not at Sitio Fomangil. – Ofelia C. Empian