Baguio City mayor mulls appealing for its rights over Asin Hydro Electric Plants

BAGUIO CITY –- Citing Republic Act (RA) 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan on Tuesday said Baguio City may invoke its rights over the Asin Mini Hydro Electric Plants in Tuba, Benguet.

Domogan explained that the Hydro Electric Plants have been existing even before the IPRA was passed on October 1997.

Section 56 of the IPRA provides that “Existing Property Rights Regimes – Property rights within the ancestral domains already existing and/or vested upon effectivity of this Act, shall be recognized and respected.”

Domogan said Benguet officials and Tuba municipal officials are misinformed by groups and individuals with vested interests over the mini hydro plants.

“In so many occasions, we (Baguio City officials) have been trying to meet with the concerned Benguet and Tuba officials for a win-win solution to the issues concerned,” Domogan said.

In 2007, the city government was supposed to pay the land owners PhP2.7 million as rental of their properties for the operation of the Asin hydro Electric Plants which was then under the local government.

But in 2008, land owners diverted the flow of water in the Asin River away from the city-owned hydro plants that forced the previous administration to file the necessary charges against them before a local court.

Damages computed as a result of the land owners action accrued to as much as PhP2.1 million.

In 2010, Domogan was able to work out the amicable settlement of the case filed by the local government against the land owners with the signing of a compromise agreement.

Domogan said the city government supports the construction of more hydro power plants along the Asin River for as long as its operation will not hamper that of the city-owned power plants. PNA/