Crony capitalism, environmental degradation, and indigenous land rights: the Bugkalot (Ilongot) and the Casecnan Dam in northern Philippines
Paper short abstract:
This paper examines how the Bugkalot draw discourses from global indigenism to articulate their opposition against the Casecnan Dam, a BOT project that was the child of crony capitalism.
Paper long abstract:
California Energy is the largest independent geothermal power company in the world. In 1995, it secured a BOT project with the Philippine government to build the multi-purpose Casecnan Dam in the Bugkalot ancestral domain. The dam provides water for irrigation and hydroelectric power generation while its reservoir affords flood control. The Casecnan project was criticized for its lack of technical merits and environmental sustainability, but it was approved at the instruction of then President Ramos, who issued at least three memoranda to "fast-track" this unsolicited BOT project. The Bugkalot have been involved in long-term disputes with Cal-Energy, and they started a new wave of protest in September 2013 to demand compensations for environmental damages which they sustain as a result of the project. Their attempt to use the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act (IPRA) as a weapon in their fight against crony capitalism and the global neoliberal regime, however, has suffered from the constitutional insecurity of the IPRA. This article will examine how the Bugkalot draw discourses from global indigenism to articulate their local concerns, and how their demand of revenue share in Casecnan is influenced by their perception of development and wealth.
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