Fibeco terminates contract with Pulangi V consultant Greenergy

MALAYBALAY CITY  – The First Bukidnon Electric Cooperative (Fibeco), proponent of the Pulangi V hydro electric project, has terminated its contract with Greenergy, its consultant for the pre-development stage of the project, Rene Cortizano, Fibeco general manager, said Wednesday.

Cortizano said via telephone effective April 1, Fibeco has stopped its contract with Greenergy, which they tapped for the proposed project since 2010. He said both firms’ commitment for the project remained, only the financial obligation to the consultant was stopped.

“We stopped because we wanted to reduce the cost and that Fibeco is capable of doing the remaining tasks of the project since they are no longer as complicated as before,” Cortizano added.
Greenergy facilitated the endorsements and permits required for the project’s social acceptability, Cortizano said. But the work is not complete yet. They were unable to secure endorsement from the Municipality of Kibawe and the free and prior informed consent from the indigenous peoples, which is facilitated by NCIP.

He said they have engaged Greenergy for about two years with a monthly fee of P260, 000 a month, a move that drew the ire of Fibeco’s critics including Vice Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri.

Last year, over Fibeco’s proposed P6.5-million loan with the National Electrification Administration (NEA), Zubiri fumed upon knowing they spent about P3.9 million for the consultants at Greenergy, which he thought were “unnecessary.”
Zubiri said if they can afford to hire consultants for that much, then they really need not apply for a loan that adds to the cost that consumers have to shoulder.
He proposed to suspend then provincial board’s approval of a certification for Fibeco until they can furnish their financial report for fiscal year 2010.
Cortizano admitted that terminating the contract could possibly harm Fibeco’s image in pursuing the hydro power project since they started the project with Greenergy.
“But they are still there to provide technical services as part of their commitment to us,” Cortizano said, who denied the two firms had a falling out or that the termination would make a dent on the proposed project. He added that Fibeco no longer pays Greenergy for those services.

Cortizano admitted that they haven’t issued a notice to the consultant yet but the board has already decided.

Last month, Datu Matingaw Petronilo Cabungcal, representative of the Save Pulangi Alliance reported to the provincial board that eight of 10 barangays, which previously endorsed the project have withdrawn support for the project. He cited alleged failure of the proponents to find a site for relocation of those expected to be inundated with the construction of the dam.

Cortizano said he respects the position of the barangay councils but there must be some lapses in properly explaining to the villages about the project.

He cited that this is among the tasks they have assumed from Greenergy upon termination of the contract.
Fibeco was questioned last year about it role in the proposed multibillion-peso project when it cannot even afford to replace the sub-transmission equipment for which they intend to use the NEA loan.
Cortizano said they were only taking charge of the social acceptability component before they will be able to talk to takers of the proposed project.
“We are not going to be part of the construction of the project,” he told the Sangguniang Panlalawigan then.

Fibeco officials said they took initiative of the proposed Pulangi V during the last power crisis.
“When we heard that Mindanao is expected to be short of 600 megawatts, we thought of the project since it will help our power consumers,” Cortizano said in 2011.
Fibeco and Buseco (Bukidnon Second Electric Cooperative) have formed a consortium and eyed to obtain a P60-million loan to acquire the 69-kilovolt sub-transmission line within the distribution network in Bukidnon.
Raul Alkuino, then Fibeco board president told the Bukidnon Power Summit in January 2011 that they intend to obtain possession, operation, and management of Pulangi IV hydropower plant and also the possible dredging project to get rid of the silt in the power complex.
The Pulangi IV possible takeover, he said, is part of their long term plan, alongside the proposed Pulangi V project.
The Task Force Save Pulangi expressed opposition to the project. It noted that if pushed through, the project will displace 2,000 residents from 22 villages in the towns of Kitaotao, Dangcagan, Kibawe and Damulog in Bukidnon and President Roxas in North Cotabato.
About 19 barangay councils of the 22 areas in the proposed Pulangi V area have endorsed the project, Fibeco officials told reporters in past interviews. (Walter I. Balane / Bukidnon News)