CAGAYAN de Oro City Councilor Jay Roa Pascual is sounding the alarm over the possible construction of a hydropower plant in Talakag town, Bukidnon, which could hurt the rafting tourism in the city.
Pascual, during regular session Monday, May 22, said the City Council was not aware of this plan and the company responsible for the construction called MarkHam Resources Corporation has not contacted city officials.
"This could damage the Cagayan River, which we cannot afford to lose, because this is the lifeline of our tourism," he said.
"We are now wondering why they got an approval in Talakag, but here, we never heard of them when we are affected with this construction especially that Barangay Besigan is one of the areas where the plant will be built," he said.
Pascual said he learned that the company is only waiting for the Oro Rafters Association's approval before beginning construction this year.
He said the plan did not only worry rafters but also the Higaonon lumads nearby, the fisherfolks, and farmers.
The matter has been referred to the committees on environment, tourism, and agriculture, and will be tackled by the committee as a whole because of the weight of the issue, Pascual added.
Meanwhile, Chisum Factura, president of the Oro Rafters Association, said this issue was first brought to their attention in 2015.
Factura said the planned 150-megawatt hydropower plant would use pressure from Bulanog and Batang rivers in the Bukidnon province.
"We suspect that this plant is the same. Our stand has not changed. We still oppose its construction because it could disrupt the flow of water into the Cagayan River," he said.
"More than the local tourism, it would affect many livelihood, and if gets damaged, its debris will go downtown, which could cause another tragedy," he said.
Factura urged the City Council to act on the issue and if possible, issue a statement against the construction.
"It would really help if we get a statement opposing the possible construction. We get it that it can help boost our electric supply but it outweighs the possible damage that it could cause to our environment," he said.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on May 24, 2017.