December 10, 2022

Who lawyered for whom for Gened 1 mega dam project in Apayao?

Apart from the botched free prior and informed consent (FPIC) process for the proposed 150-megawatt Gened 1 mega -dam project in Kabugao, Apayao, what else can be ascertained in the issue? We look at some of the new information brought to light after the May 9 elections.
It was recently disclosed at an online election update that IPeace Epanaw, or Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Conference for Peace and Development party-list, was originally composed of Atty. Noel Magalgalit as its second nominee.
Subsequently, he was substituted by Atty. Marlon Bosantog in November 2021, the same month he resigned as regional director of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples-Cordillera. Tarpaulins of IPeace Epenaw bearing Bosantog as its second nominee were visible during the campaign period.
Magalgalit was the legal representative for Pan Pacific Renewable Power Philippines (PPRPPC) for the Gened 1 mega dam in Apayao. Before the campaign period, Magalgalit was seen during the FPIC processes in Kabugao lawyering for Gened 1 mega dam project.
Glaringly, Magalgalit was the missing link further giving credence to the railroading of the FPIC process for the Gened 1 mega dam.
On the other hand, Bosantog, while sitting as NCIP-Cordillera director, had indirectly lawyered for the Gened 1 mega dam project through the former IPeace Epanaw party-list second nominee Magalgalit whom he substituted in November 2021.
The NCIP, as the main agency to oversee the proper implementation of the FPIC process, as clearly shown by the actions and connections of Bosantog to Magalgalit, became the dealer for the project.
Perhaps, Bosantog was offered the second nominee seat for IPeace Epanaw after delivering FPIC for the Gened 1 mega dam project?
Had Bosantog not substituted Magalgalit as the second nominee for IPeace Epanaw after the controversial approval of the certification precondition (CP) for the Gened 1 mega dam, he would have gotten away with the botched FPIC process, and the indigenous peoples of Kabugao ancestral domain would not have declared him as persona non grata.
Bosantog is not good in cleaning up his own tracks. Magalgalit is Bosantog’s go-to-guy in most controversial issues during his tenure with the NCIP.
No wonder NCIP has resorted to baseless red-tagging on its press release just to paint a picture that Gened 1 mega dam was favorably accepted by the indigenous peoples of Kabugao, and that oppositors of the project are either members or influenced by the communist terrorist groups.
Yet, NCIP cannot justify the hundreds of forged signatures and botched FPIC process which were all backed by paper documents out in the open.
In retrospect, the 150-MW Gened 1 mega dam was rejected by the IPs of Kabugao ancestral domain three times but somehow managed to be magically resurrected repeatedly. The latest rejection came on Jan. 15, 2021.
This third rejection, however, was quickly set aside months after Bosantog, as NCIP-CAR director, first visited Kabugao sometime in February 2021.
As a result, a memorandum of agreement was signed on April 20, 2021 leading to the verbal approval of the CP by the NCIP despite the adverse findings by the NCIP-Cordillera Regional Review Team to the FPIC process undertaken for the mega dam project.
While tainted with controversies, said approval of the CP, was boasted publicly by NCIP Commissioner Gaspar Cayat during the Regional Development Council meeting sometime in September 2021.
Now, information has it that someone is planning a comeback to the NCIP as its executive director by virtue of a blessing coming from one former president known for having close ties with the presumptive president.
Presumptive President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. won via landslide in Kabugao and it would be interesting to see how he weighs his appointment powers.
Do we expect that it will be tilted heavily towards his close allies, or will the IP voters of Kabugao outweigh it? — NAME WITHHELD

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