SN ABOITIZ Power Benguet Inc. (Snap)-Benguet attested to have been giving benefits to host communities.
In a statement, Snap said the firm is still awaiting formal notice from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)-Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and clarified the company has been providing benefits since 2008 to the IPs and indigenous cultural communities (ICCs) that host the Ambuklao and Binga Hydro Electric Power Plants (HEPPs) located in Bokod and Itogon.
"The benefit is in the form of yearly funding provided to the IPs/ICCs, under the community investment program of the company, for priority projects identified by the IPs/ICCs themselves. The company also funds sustainability and special projects implemented in partnership with IPs," said Rhoda Santos, AVP for Public Affairs.
The statement sent December 29 said the IPs benefit from the operations of their HEPPS in Benguet.
"Snap-Benguet's continuing commitment is part of the Memorandums of Agreement (MOAs) entered into by the company and the Ambuklao and Binga IPs/ICCs in line with the privatization and transfer of the state-owned power plants to Snap-Benguet. To date, a total of P69 million worth of funds for community development, special, sustainability, and sponsorship projects have been provided to the IPs/ICCs out of the Ambuklao and Binga operations. The MOAs to provide benefits to the IPs/ICCs were the result of the consultation and dialogue with the IPs/ICCs held in 2008. Under Section 56 of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 (RA 8371), Ambuklao and Binga already have existing property rights in the Bokod and Itogon municipalities as they were constructed in 1956 and 1960 respectively, prior to the effectivity of the Ipra," Santos added.
The NCIP, before the year ended, issued show cause orders for companies in a bid to investigate allegations of irregularities filed by Indigenous Peoples groups in the region.
The orders were issued for mining companies, Benguet Corporation, Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation, and Itogon Suyoc Resources Inc., a subsidiary of the Davao-based Apex Mining Company Inc., as well as hydro firms, San Roque Power Corporation for San Roque Dam, Aboitiz Power Corporation for both Ambuclao and Binga Dam, and Hedcor, December 22 by the NCIP regional director, Marlon Bosantog due to non-payment royalties to host IP communities.
NCIP said in the orders that it has come to their attention that the cultural communities/IPs in the ancestral domain where the companies operate have not received royalties.