BAGUIO CITY – Tuba municipal councilor Roger Kitma has appealed for “healing” of the relations between the Baguio city government and Tuba residents and appealed to the city officials here to work out the settlement of the issues on Asin mini-hydroelectric plants.
In a letter to the city council dated Jan. 29, Kitma asked for the city to reach out and waive its claim for civil damages filed years ago against members of the Tadiangan-Nangalisan Hydro Ancestral Landowners Association (TNHALA) for allegedly diverting water supply disrupting the operation of the plants, if only to quell the animosity and forge better relations between the parties.
The issuance of the waiver would pave the way for the implementation of the compromise agreement entered in 2010 by the city government and the TNHALA for the city’s payment of the rentals to the residents for the use of their properties traversed by the mini-hydro flume lines.
“Short of saying we are appealing for healing through said waiver, the undersigned now prays that the decision-makers comprising the City would understand that they are dealing with individuals, whose individual participation that gave rise to Civil Case No. 6911-R are practically indeterminable, making it ripe to be ‘overlooked’ if only to create better relations,” he wrote.
“Kindness and goodness beget kindness and goodness. I am sure that when the City finally reaches out without too much concern for legalities, the hearts of our affected constituents in Tuba would likewise soften up,” he said.
Kitma said the opposition filed by resident against the city’s intention to revive the operations of the Asin mini-hydros in Nov. 1, 2015, was anchored on two grounds: “the unsatisfied clamor for payment of rentals and the absence of activities that are mutually beneficial to affected Asin residents and the city, that is, the maintenance of flume lines upon which residents depend upon for water used domestically or for farming.”
“Indeed it has been a long time since the hydros were operated and the continuing deferral of any activities in the area have left our constituents thereat restive. Our humble projection is that if the city continues to delay said payments and defer its active presence onsite, the more such delay will create problems insofar as the hydros and relationships between and amongst all affected parties are concerned,” Kitma assessed.
He suggested that payment of the computed rentals and the issuance of a waiver be done the soonest possible time “if only to be able to diffuse any growing tensions between the city and the affected residents.”
Mayor Mauricio Domogan has time and again expressed hopes that the claims will be settled at the city council the soonest possible time so the rentals can be paid to the affected residents pursuant to the compromise agreement.
The city government and landowners in 2010 signed a compromise agreement for the compensation of the residents whose lands are affected by the pipelines and plant facilities ending a long standing dispute over reparation issues that in the past resulted to disruption of the plants’ operations and even led to a court case between the parties.
As per the agreement, the city will compensate the landowners by way of rentals amounting to three percent of the net surplus from the operation of the mini-hydro plants subject to conditions that the rentals will be retroactive to year 2007 when the city assumed management of the plant; that the rentals will be subject to increase after three years; and that the rentals shall be payable to TNHLA which will assume the task of distributing the amount to the affected landowners.
The agreement was approved by the court and the corresponding amount had been allocated by the city government however, the execution of the agreement did not push through in view of the need to negotiate and waive the claim of the city government for damages before the City Council.
The association earlier appealed to the city council to waive the claim./A. Refuerzo