Itogon IPs, SNAP-Benguet seal agreement for increased benefits

Posted on March 03, 2023
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PHOTO CAPTION: (L-R) Mr. Norberto Pacio, Tinongdan Indigenous Peoples Organization (TINPO) Chairperson, Mr Joseph Yu, SN Aboitiz Power-Benguet President and CEO, and Ms. Rosita Bargaso, Itogon Indigenous Peoples Organization (IIPO) Chairperson.

Renewable energy provider SN Aboitiz Power-Benguet, Inc. (SNAP-Benguet), a joint venture of Scatec and Aboitiz Power Corporation, signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) on increased benefits with the Tinongdan Indigenous Peoples Organization (TINPO) and the Itogon Indigenous Peoples Organization (IIPO) on February 28 at the Marian Village in Binga, Itogon, Benguet.

The signing comes after almost two years of negotiations between the company and the Itogon ancestral domain (AD), facilitated by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

Mr. Norberto Pacio, TINPO Chairperson, thanked the NCIP, represented by Provincial Officer Atty. Myra Kalang-ad and Information Officer Rocky Ngalob, for facilitating the negotiation process among the indigenous peoples’ organizations (IPOs) and SNAP-Benguet. “I also thank Atty. Mike Hosillos and Mr. Joseph Yu for the support and sponsorship of IP activities of Itogon,” he said.

IIPO Chairperson Ms. Rosita Bargaso said in her remarks, “With this agreement, we can achieve our dreams with the help of investors, and with the assistance of the NCIP. We persevered for nearly two years of this negotiation. We thank everyone for their patience.”

According to SNAP Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Atty. Mike Hosillos, the contract represents the progress made throughout almost 15 years of partnership with Itogon.

“It also shows our genuine sincerity to being the IP community’s partner in progress,” he said. “We look forward to working with our host communities to realize our shared vision to protect and nurture IP culture.”

Under the MOA, SNAP-Benguet will provide the Itogon ancestral domain, which hosts the 140-MW Binga hydroelectric power plant, about PhP10.3 million every year starting 2023 or an equivalent of 3.10 centavos per kilowatt hour (c/kWh) total benefits.

The agreed total benefits include 1.65 c/kwh from the plant’s annual production and an annual special fund of PhP1 million for partnership projects promoting indigenous culture. This is in addition to the existing benefits provided since 2008 which now amounts to PhP3.8 million. To boost the special fund for cultural partnership projects, SNAP will provide a stimulus of PhP5 million to cover the years 2023 to 2025.

SNAP will also voluntarily provide a one-time benefit of P6.1 million or equivalent to 1.65c/kWh of its 2021 production, the year when negotiations started. The IPs also stand to receive an additional PhP6 million, representing 1.65c/kWh of SNAP’s 2022 production and the adjusted value of its 2022 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) fund.

SNAP has agreed under the MOA to escalate the value of the benefits by 5% every five years.

In 2008, SNAP-Benguet took over ownership and operation of Binga hydro, then a government facility, through a successful privatization bid. SNAP undertook consultations with the IP community, capped with an agreement to provide community benefits through a CSR program. Since then, SNAP has provided annual benefits to the IPs.

The negotiations for additional benefits began in June 2021 among SNAP-Benguet, TINPO, and IIPO. The Itogon IP organizations (IPOs) formally accepted SNAP’s offer of additional benefits in December 2022.

SNAP-Benguet will provide this amount directly to the IP community, through its designated IPOs, on an annual basis. This gives the IP community greater control over projects they want to implement.

“On behalf of the management team of SNAP-Benguet, I thank the IP communities of Itogon for their continued trust and support. This MOU signing is a testament to the spirit of partnership that prevails between SNAP and our IP brothers and sisters,” SNAP Group President and CEO Joseph Yu said. “We look forward to a positive impact to the community and its people based on this mutual cooperation.”

Apart from giving to IPOs, the company will continue to extend separate voluntary CSR funds to its host local government units including the municipality of Itogon, Barangay Tinongdan and its now adopted host community, Barangay Dalupirip. SNAP also provides mandatory benefits to energy host communities through the national wealth tax and the 1c/kWh ER 1-94 fund. #

About SNAP-Benguet:

SN Aboitiz Power-Benguet (SNAP-Benguet) is a joint venture of Scatec and Aboitiz Power Corporation (AP).

Scatec is a leading renewable energy solutions provider, accelerating access to reliable and affordable clean energy in emerging markets. As a long-term player, they develop, build, own and operate renewable energy plants, with 4.6 GW in operation and under construction across four continents today. They are committed to growing their renewable energy capacity, delivered by their 700 passionate employees and partners who are driven by a common vision of ‘Improving our Future’. Scatec is headquartered in Oslo, Norway and listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol ‘SCATC’.

AP is the holding company of the Philippines-based Aboitiz Group’s investments in power generation, distribution, and retail electricity services. It advances business and communities by providing reliable and ample power supply at a reasonable and competitive price, and with the least adverse effects on the environment and host communities.

SNAP-Benguet owns and operates the 105-MW Ambuklao and 140-MW Binga hydroelectric power plants in Benguet. The non-power components such as dams, reservoirs, and spillways are owned and managed by the government. In line with established protocols, SNAP operates the spillway gates during normal conditions and the government takes over operations during extraordinary conditions.