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Kidapawan councilor cancels visit to geothermal field seeks legal remedies instead

 • 20:02 PM Fri Oct 9, 2015
Malu C. Manar
Mt. Apo geothermal site in Kidapawan City. (thinkgeoenergycom)

KIDAPAWAN CITY -Legislators here sought legal options after they were barred from bringing media and drones when they conduct ocular visit to the geothermal field on Mount Apo. Kidapawan CityCouncilor Lauro Taynan, chair of the Committee on Energy of theSangguniang Panglungsod, said they already discussed with their lawyer the options to seek legal remedies. Taynan said they want to know if there is truth to reports that the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) has started drilling additional geothermal wells at Barangay Ilomavis here. Taynan has also received reports that the company has expanded their drilling operations outside the 702-hectare lot allowed for geothermal power production. All these reports have to be validated or confirmed through an ocular visit to the site,” Taynan said. The EDC, in its letter addressed to the Sangguniang Panglungsod dated October 2, has allowed the visit on Friday, October 9.They, however, set restrictions or protocols. First, EDC Assistant Vice-President engineer Alejandro Catacutan has clarified that digital cameras and Android phones with cameras are allowed only in designated areas. Second, Catacutan said they can’t allow drones operating within the vicinity for security reasons. Third, he said the site visit is only exclusive to the Sangguniang Panglungsod members as part of ‘building trust.’This, according to Taynan, clearly showed that theSanggunian Panglungsodcannot bring journalists to cover the site visit. This was why we canceled the site visit because media was not allowed to join us.If there’s no media, then, there’s no transparency here,” said the councilor. Other than legal remedies, the council is also thinking to elevate the issue to the Congress and have it investigated through a congressional inquiry. Another option, although this is remote, Taynan said, is the ‘extra-legal.’ We don’t want to just wake up one morning that a structure has already been built inside the geothermal field and we can’t do something about it.An option that we have not yet discussed is the extra-legal. But of course, we are a government of laws.We have to abide by the laws,” he said. Before a company is allowed to build a geothermal power plant in an area, it should get permits or approval from the local government units in the barangay, city, and province. Taynan wanted a guarantee that before EDC is allowed to drill another well here an embedded or separate power lines should be given directly to the city and to the province of North Cotabato to assure that power consumers have steady supply of electricity, especially in times of energy crisis.”

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