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BAKUN, Benguet – The municipal council expressed its strong support to the actions of the indigenous peoples of the municipality and the Cordillera office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP-CAR) in the issuance of cease-and-desist order (CDO) for HEDCOR’s three hydroelectric power plants.
Under Resolution No. 97-2021, the council stated that considering the decision of the IPs as expressed in earlier resolutions of the Bakun Indigenous Tribes Organization (BITO), HEDCOR, Inc. is operating within the ancestral domain of the IPs without the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of the IPs as required by law.
Further, the council claimed that pursuant to prescribed processes, the Bakun indigenous peoples, in accordance to their customary laws and traditions and decision-making process, had already spoken and decided the fate of the company’s hydroelectric power plants within their ancestral domain. Republic Act (RA) 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples; Rights Act recognizes and promote all the rights of Indigenous Peoples to self-governance and empowerment of which they have the right to be consulted on all projects, programs and activities to be undertaken within their ancestral domains.
Moreover, Section 59 of the IPRA stipulated that all departments and other government agencies shall henceforth be strictly enjoined from issuing, renewing, or granting any concession, license or lease, or entering into any production sharing agreement, without prior certification from the NCIP that the area affected does not overlap with any ancestral domain. Such certification shall be issued after a field-based investigation is conducted by the ancestral domain office of the area concerned, provided, that no certification shall be issued by the NCIP without the free and prior informed and written consent of the indigenous peoples. Provided, further, that no department, government agency or government-owned and controlled corporation may issue new concessions, licenses, leases, or production sharing agreements while there is a pending application for a certificate of ancestral domain title. Provided, finally, that the indigenous peoples shall have the right to stop or suspend in accordance with the said Act any project that has not satisfied the requirement of the consultation process.
Among the resolutions that were previously passed by the indigenous peoples include the resolution of no consent for the continuous operation of the company’s power plants, revoking the memorandum of agreement (MOA) with HEDCOR and requesting NCIP-CAR to issue a cease-and-desist order for HEDCOR to stop its operation within the ancestral domain of the indigenous peoples of Bakun.
The council asserted that the municipal government fully supports the issuance and implementation of the CDO by NCIP-CAR ordering the power generation company to stop the operation of their power plants within the ancestral domain of the indigenous peoples because of the previous decision of the Indigenous Peoples not to allow the continuous operation of the said plants.
HEDCOR was supposed to continue its operation of its existing 3 hydroelectric power plants in the municipality after the lapse of the earlier 25-year lease period but the indigenous peoples asserted the issuance of the no consent to the same that caused the shutdown of the plants to date although the company is still hoping for the possible ‘win-win’ resolution to the said matter in the future. By HENT