PROTESTS continue for a hydropower project in Kalinga.

A petition was filed this week by the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), urging the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to declare a failure in the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process for the Upper Tabuk Hydropower Project (UTHP).

CPA secretary general Bestang Dekdeken said the affected communities oppose the project because of the adverse effects it will have on their ancestral lands.

"The violations on the FPIC process, including the active interventions of Daniel Peckley Jr. and NCIP-Kalinga officers to get the consent of indigenous cultural communities (ICCs) and the divisive effect of the UTHP on the communities. The UTHP has clearly created problems within communities which would not have been there if the project was not there in the first place," Dekdeken said.

The petition also called for NCIP to hold accountable the project proponent, as well as the NCIP-Kalinga officers for violations of the rights of ICCs to integrity and self-determination.

The 17-megawatt UTHP is a project of the DPJ Engineers & Consultants (DPJ) owned by Daniel Peckley Jr. The project involves the construction of 35.4-meter high dam along the Tanudan River that will create a reservoir of around 30 hectares and a total storage capacity of around five million cubic meters.

In November 2019, Taloctoc and Malbong, two of the five indigenous cultural communities (ICCs) declared by the NCIP as affected areas, manifested their rejection of the project in their Resolution of Non-Consent.

Dekdeken said the petition was executed and signed in February this year by 189 individuals belonging to the Taloctoc, Naneng, Malbong and Minanga ICCs following NCIP's lifting of the Temporary Suspension Order on the FPIC process for the UTHP.

The petition was also executed in protest of Peckley Jr.'s statement that the project will push through within the ancestral domains of only the ICCs who gave their consent for the project. The affected ICCs were very much aware that the project would nonetheless impact adversely on all of their ancestral domains.

The petition also stated that the project proponent colluded with individuals belonging to ICCs and to NCIP-Kalinga for the reconstitution of the Minanga, an old tribe that had long been subsumed to the Naneng. This bore serious implications, such as the Minanga and their lands being removed from the protection of the Naneng's bodbodong (peacepacts), Naneng's bodong with other tribes being jeopardized, and Naneng's integrity as a binodngan tribe being violated.

"We also call on NCIP to denounce and help stop Peckley Jr.'s acts of red-tagging, maligning and political vilification against the Tignayan ti Mannalon iti Kalinga and individuals that oppose his hydropower project because these put in danger peoples' lives. We call on the NCIP to recognize the fact that many of the people in the affected ICCs do not want the project. Gross violations of the FPIC process have already been documented by the affected communities which are enough grounds to merit a final 'No consent' decision from the NCIP. NCIP should declare a failure of the FPIC process for the UTHP project," it stated.