Tribal council requires hydro firm to get consent

By Erlow Talatala/BukidnonNews.Net

MALAYBALAY CITY (BukidnonNews.Net/27 September) The Council of Elders of the Seven (7) Tribes of Bukidnon required a hydro power firm to obtain consent from the tribe before it can conduct a drilling activity in the Tagoloan River Basin.

Erwin “Anilaw Inlantong” Marte, facilitator of the council said they are seeking the appearance of Dominador M. Lanozo, section head of Sta Clara International Corp., for a dialogue regarding the matter.

He said they have started drilling in the area even without free and prior informed consent or FPIC.

Marte said members of the Melendez-Moreno clan and some environmentalist groups discovered about the drilling on August 31, 2015 during a tree planting activity in the area. The area is part of the ancestral domain claimed by the Salaguia Clan.

Lanozo told BukidnonNews.Net the drilling is part of the field-based investigation (FBI), a preliminary research in preparation for the development of its proposed 6.0 megawatt Middle Can-ayan Hydro Power Project and 4.0 megawatt Upper Can-ayan Hydro Power Project at Brgy. Can-ayan. The two projects are part of the Php 13-billion hydropower electric plant project, eyed to be constructed by Hedcor Bukidnon, Inc., a subsidiary of Aboitiz Power Corp.

Lanozo added that they obtained a permit to conduct geotechnical investigation, aerial survey using commercial drones and other conventional surface topographical survey issued by Malaybalay City Mayor Ignacio W. Zubiri last Aug. 11, 2015.

The permit is valid only until December 31, 2015, and “is subject for revocation and cancellation should the interest of public safety so demand.”

Vice mayor Roland F. Deticio told Piniyalan Reporting Governance Project on DxDB on September 26 that the city council did not grant any authority for the firm to drill in the area. He vowed to call the committee in charge on the matter to tackle the alleged drilling without consent from indigenous peoples in the area.

Marte told BukidnonNews.Net the dialogue did not push through due to the non-appearance of Datu Sipeng Sagubay, of Brgy. Can-ayan. He is supposed to represent Lanozo in the conduct of settlement in accordance with the Customary Law of the Indigenous Peoples of Bukidnon.

Tagoloan River is the 13th longest river system in the Philippines in terms of watershed size with the length of 106 kilometres and a basin area of 1,704 square kilometres.

The Tagoloan River Basin has also become the traditional worship ground of the seven indigenous tribes of Bukidnon since time immemorial, Marte said.

The final schedule of the dialogue and appeasement is set on October 03, 2015 at the Bureau of Forest and Inc. (BFI) Compound in Sumpong, Malaybalay City (BukidnonNews.Net)