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The Sagada-Besao wind farm project  

Credit:  By SAGADA-BESAO WIND WATCH and SAGADA AND BESAO CONCERNED CITIZENS | Northern Dispatch (nordis) Weekly | May 19, 2013 | www.nordis.net ~~

This proposal is for a giant industrial project that will change our lives for many years. It will put a big piece of our ancestral land under the control of a Manila corporation for at least 25 years. This Company that does not understand or care about our ways or our place. They are here for money, nothing else. We cannot just say “yes” because they give us a few gifts or make some promises an reassurances. We need real information, real data, real research. PhilCarbon, is treating us like we are children or primitives and we need them to tell us what is good. This is not right. National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) works for us Indigenous Peoples and must uphold our right to Free Prior Informed Consent. They must insure that all the documents and the research are provided us and let us study them. We must think long and hard before we let them tell us to approve this. Come to the meetings, ask questions. Think for yourself do not let them tell us what is good!

1. The construction of wind turbines requires huge excavations and clearing of large areas. The Company has not release any site plans showing how large an area will be cleared and excavated for each turbine site. How can they build major excavations like this along a steep narrow ridge without affecting the watershed and causing landslides?

2. The Company has not made any geologic study to determine impact on watersheds or whether the rock beneath the project sites is able to support such large heavy structures. What will happen to the water sources when the trees are stripped off and the top of the ridge is flattened? With all the blasting and excavation, will landslides come when typhoons and earthquakes affect the disturbed areas? How can they answer if they have never done the studies? Their research team only spent 5 days on the site and did no drilling or subsurface investigation, so they don’t really know the answers.

3. The proposed sites of turbines 9 and 10 are at the top of a very steep slope with a loose surface and many boulders. They are directly above the villages of Aguid and Pide. How can we be sure that these huge excavations with blasting and heavy equipment operations will not cause landslides?

4. The Company has not submitted any plan for the access road. These roads must be wide enough for very large loads and must have big turning areas. They have never said how many trees will be cut or how much grading and excavation will have to be done to build these roads on very steep and narrow ridge lines with abrupt drop offs.

5. PhilCarbon’s own report admits that water sources may be contaminated by silt or by oil, grease or fuel spills during construction. We all know the affect that cutting trees and digging up watersheds has on springs and other water sources. What will we do if critical water sources are destroyed by this giant industrial project?

6. PhilCarbon has never submitted any plan for moving the huge components of the towers. These loads are over 30 meters long and up to 70 tons. They need very wide turns and strong bridges. They are much too heavy for any aircraft to deliver. How can our roads and bridges carry these loads? How can roads be widened without affecting private farm lands and buildings? Don’t we need to know what their plan is, if they have one?

7. PhilCarbon and its representatives have told us that without this project Mountain Province will not have enough electricity. Why don’t they ever talk about the Sabangan hydro project and its 14 Megawatts that will be ready in 2014? Or about the Layugan hydro proposal which will bring 15 megawatts. These projects have more than enough to supply Mt Province and because they are in valleys, not on ridges, their impact on watersheds and landslide potential is much less. What purpose does this project have except to make money for a Manila company?

9. Based on PhilCarbon’s projected output of 32,196,000 kwh/year, the royalties to the community at 0.01/kwh would be P112,686 to the provincial government, 64,392 each to Sagada and Besao municipal LGUs, and about 13,000 to each affected barangay. The Company stands to earn over 165 million pesos a year in profit, even after deduction construction, financing, and operating costs. Is that a fair distribution of income?

10. PhilCarbon has never presented any accounting of who actually owns the Company, who their foreign partners are, and who will be financing the project. They have not presented any financial projections. Why not? The communities are being asked to invest their land, resources, and future, shouldn’t they have the same information any investor would expect?

11. The communities involved have their own ways to resolve disputes, especially involving land, water, and the affects of land use on others. If the Company is in a dispute, will they agree to use these mechanisms or will they insist on going to a faraway court where their lawyers can take over?

12. This project will bring many workers from other places to our communities and most of them will be men. Where will they stay? How can we be sure they will follow our customs and not cause disruption to our communities? Will they follow our curfew? Will there be problems with drinking, prostitutes coming to serve them, harassment of local women? These things happen when big projects come to small towns, we must know who is accountable.

13. The Company has never submitted any decommissioning plan. What will happen after 25 years when the project is no longer usable? Will they just walk away and leave it for our children to manage or suffer as experienced by Marinduque when Marcopper Mining left the town?

14. The Company promises that people who own land in the area can earn money through lease payments. But so much of this land is disputed, what will happen if this disputed land starts earning money. So many communities, even families will be fighting over it. Even within families we have seen how rental money can lead family members into conflict. What good is it to have money if we just end up fighting with each other over who gets it? Is money more important than peace and cooperation?

15. It has always been the way of Sagada and Besao not to allow companies from Manila to do business here, unless they bring some service that our people need, like the telephone companies. The only thing PhilCarbon is offering is money, and most of the money will go to them. We get a few thousand, they get many millions. Are our land and resources for sale? If we sell them to one company and some people make money what happens when other companies come? Will other people want to make money too, and sell again? How much will we sell before there is none left and the Manila companies own us? Once we start the selling, how do we stop it?

16. If the LGUs start making money from these companies, will they be accountable to the people or the companies? If there is a dispute, will they favor the people or the companies? Would we rather be small municipalities that belong to the people or big municipalities owned by Manila corporations?

17. PhilCarbon completed an “Initial Environmental Assessment Report” at least 6 months ago. No copies were ever distributed to the affected communities. Why is the Company not disclosing this information? How can we participate in meetings if we don’t know what to ask about? How can we have informed consent without information?

18. Why is NCIP not following the guidelines for the Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) process? There is no transparency, information is not released, required documents are not submitted. Why are notices to Assemblies deceptively phrased? Is NCIP a referee or a player? Are they on the side of the community or the Company?

19. How could DENR-CAR issue an Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC) with so little information and no community consultation? Why were affected communities never told that an ECC had been issued?

Source:  By SAGADA-BESAO WIND WATCH and SAGADA AND BESAO CONCERNED CITIZENS | Northern Dispatch (nordis) Weekly | May 19, 2013 | www.nordis.net

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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