By ESTANISLAO ALBANO JR.
TABUK CITY, Kalinga — The Department of Energy (DoE) has given the go-signal to two local firms to prospect and tap geothermal energy in Pasil town, this province.
Natividad Sugguiyao, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) provincial director, informed the media that the geothermal service contract (GSC), which was signed recently by DoE Secretary Angelo Reyes, allows Aragorn Power and Energy Corp. (APEC) and Guidance Management Corp. (GMC) to jointly explore for geothermal energy in a 26,250-hectare area in the municipalities of Pasil, Tinglayan, and Lubuagan, all in Kalinga.
Sugguiyao said, however, that although the GSC covers also Tinglayan and Lubuagan, the exploration will be done only in Pasil until such time that the tribes in the ancestral domains will give their free and prior informed consent (FPIC) to the activity.
Sugguiyao said that to date, seven affected tribes in Pasil have given their FPICs as the affected tribes in the ancestral domain in Tinglayan and Lubuagan want to study further the project.
“It’s not that they do not want the project. They just want to see if the project has no adverse effects on the community and want to be assured they are making the right decision,” she said.
She also said that the GSC gives APEC and GMC the right to explore for geothermal energy in the area and, if warranted by the exploration results, to produce geothermal energy for 50 years.
Sugguiyao called the project the biggest investment made in this province in recent years.
Pasil Mayor James Edduba said that if the estimated 60-megawatt potential of the area is tapped, the geothermal operation would not only be the biggest in the country but it would make the Philippines surpass the United States in use of geothermal power.
Aside from prospecting for geothermal energy, APEC is also involved in petroleum exploration in the Cagayan basin, while GMC holds the GSC for the Amacan geothermal prospect in Compostela Valley Province in Mindanao and two coal-operating contracts.(ManilaBulletin)