BAGUIO CITY -- The Cordillera Regional Development Council (RDC) is seeking immediate amendment to the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act (RA) 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001 and Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991.
The proposed amendment calls for a broader definition of "host community" to include upstream watershed communities and local government units (LGUs).
This would make these communities and LGUs co-host of hydroelectric and multi-purpose dams. As co-host, they would have shares in the natural wealth taxes paid by the companies operating the hydropower and multi-purpose dams.
In RDC-CAR (Cordillera Administrative Region) Resolution No. 73, series of 2008, the region's policy-making body noted that the current definition of "host community" as stated in EPIRA and LGC refers to LGUs where energy-resource and power-generating facilities are located. As such, upstream communities serving as the primary water source are deprived of their share in the taxes being paid by the firms operating the power plants.
RDC cited the urgent need to re-define "host community" to include upstream watershed communities and LGUs that protect and maintain the water sources, particularly watersheds. This would provide them incentives and means to undertake sustainable watershed-management programs.
RDC said that the alarming rate of denudation of Cordillera watersheds puts at risk the sources of the water that runs the turbines of the hydroelectric plants and irrigates farms. …