PHOTO: Datu Petronilo Cabungcal, a Manobo-Pulanguion leader from Natulungan, Kibawe, Bukidnon is now in Manila for the Lakbayan ng mga Pambasang Minorya para sa Sariling Pagpapasya at Makatarungang Kapayapaan. Datu 'Nilo' is a staunch opposotion to the contstruction of Pulangi V megadam in Bukidnon. Photo by Alana Cortes.
Bgy. Sanipon in Kibawe, Bukidnon, measuring about 5,000 hectares and where the Pulangi V reservoir will be built, will be literally wiped out when the project pushes through. The Manobo-Pulangion community, which depends on the Pulangi River for food, livelihood, irrigation, water and sanitation, transportation, and as trade route, will be submerged entirely. Pulangi V is estimated to overflow and inundate the barangay 165 meters deep.
The residents recalled that after 10 years from 2002, land surveyors from FIBECO came back in 2012 to measure the area. When the barangay officials led by the Barangay Captain asked what for, the surveyors dismissed the Barangay Captain. Then, in August 2016, a certain Engineer Dy came back to put the markers on the measured land.
Thereafter, FIBECO has been spreading information that the company has offered to buy the Lumad’s lands and crops at market value and has readied livelihood programs and relocation. It is also spreading information that the residents have already agreed to the project, but there is no document showing that the barangay LGU has indeed signed an agreement.
Meanwhile, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) has not conducted the process of getting free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) from the Lumad community. Yet, the agency is in favor of the project and immediately puts off any sign of protest from the Lumad, according to the residents. It has also assigned a lawyer for the seven tribes living in the affected areas, who is recruiting the Lumad for paramilitary groups.
Bgy. Sanipon is among three barangays that are being applied for Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim by the Federation of Manobo-Matigsalog Tribal Council (FEMMATRIC). Residents of Bgy. Sanipon, however, complain that FEMMATRIC did not include creeks, a huge portion of Bgy. Sanipon including famlands (Bgy. Sanipon relies on upland agriculture) and its riverbanks, and some historic rock formations. Residents fear that FEMMATRIC’s application may even undermine their protest against Pulangi V.
Residents project that their livelihood sources – corn, banana, coconut, fruits, livestock and poultry – would be gone once Pulangi V becomes a reality. Their cultural heritage will definitely be erased as their territory is diminished.[i]
Who is behind FIBECO and Green Energy?
FIBECO is a member of the Northern Mindanao Electric Cooperative Association (Normeca), which is composed of eight cooperatives. FIBECO’s franchise area covers 3,855 sq. km, over 12 municipalities and one city in the southern part of Bukidnon. These are the municipalities of Dangcagan, Damulog, Don Carlos, Kadingilan, Kalilangan, Kibawe, Kitaotao, Maramag, Pangantucan, Quezon, San Fernando, City of Valencia, and Wao, Lanao Del Sur. Fibeco also supplies the electric power needs of Bumbaran Municipal Power in Bumbaran, Lanao Del Sur and Cotelco (Cotabato Electric Cooperative) to serve the municipality of Banisilan, North Cotabato.[ii]
Green Energy on the other hand was formed only in July 2008. Its president and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Cerael C. Donggay was previously the Vice-President of the Napocor. Donggay is well connected, having held executive positions in various corporations as former president of EDCOP Energy; consultant in the rehabilitation of Subic Distribution System; project director of Bulanog-Batang Hydro Project; consultant of distribution utilities (electric cooperatives) of Normeca; and project director and consultant of the Association of Mindanao Electric Cooperatives. He was also instrumental in drafting the EPIRA leading to the passage of Republic Act 9136 in 2001.[iii]
The story above is an excerpt from the forthcoming book, ‘The Point of Development: Shrinking Spaces for Lumad vis-à-vis Energy Projects’, to be published by the RMP-NMR-established Mindanao Interfaith Institute on Lumad Studies.
[i] Interview with Alberto M. Mambo, Barangay Captain and Jojo Enrico, Barangay Secretary, Bgy. Sanipon, Kibawe, Bukidnon, 28 Oct. 2016