BAKUN, Benguet – Kankana-ey and Bago Indigenous Peoples in this municipality requested the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to defer the processing of the required certification precondition (CP) being applied for by the Aboitiz-owned Hydroelectric Development Corporation (HEDCOR) Inc. for the renewal of the operation of the Lon-oy, Singit and Lower Labay hydropower plants.
In Joint Resolution No. 1, series of 2020, the Kankana-ey and Bago Indigenous Cultural Communities and indigenous peoples of the ancestral domain of Bakun and the Bakun Indigenous Tribes Organization (BITO) agreed it is incumbent upon the NCIP to defer the processing of the company’s CP until a favorable settlement is arrived at in relation to the conflict between HEDCOR and the municipal government that was elevated to the court through a civil case.
Earlier, the tribal organizations, NCIP and HEDCOR entered onto an agreement supporting the company’s application for the issuance of the required CP as a requirement for the renewal of their operation of the three minihydro power plants situated within their ancestral domain in Bakun.
However, with the ongoing process of the said application for the issuance of the CP, a petition for certiorari with prayer for the issuance of temporary restraining order (TRO) and writ of preliminary mandatory injunction under Civil Case No. 20G-CV-3549 was filed by HEDCOR, Inc., against Mayor Bill Raymundo and all persons acting under his instruction and authority to refrain from stopping the operation of the power plants pending the processing of their business permits without the corresponding agreement with the local government.
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The tribes pointed out that the aforesaid agreement as a requirement for the issuance of the compliance certificate must be understood that it is issued in favor to the domain.
However, the groups clarified that their agreement does not cover HEDCOR’s obligation to the municipal government in relation to the issuance of business permit and other related requirements.
Mayor Raymundo, with the consent of the members of the municipal council, issued a stoppage order against the continued operation of the company’s 3 power plants with expired memorandum of agreements with the local government after the company allegedly refused to renew the same and secure the business permit for the same to operate.
As of August 5, 2020, the free and prior informed consent (FPIC) report of HEDCOR’s agreement with the tribes is still on process with the FPIC team.
Raymundo argued that HEDCOR cannot use as a justification, its agreement with the tribal organizations because the required CP has not yet been issued in the company’s favor, aside from the fact that it refuses to recognize the power of the municipal government to issue or deny the issuance of business permit without first renewing the company’s agreement with the local government that also expired.
He asserted that municipal officials are willing to dialogue with HEDCOR officials on the matter because what should prevail is the greater interest of the people of Bakun who should directly benefit from the operation of the minihydro power plants and that such interest should not be compromised by the concerned parties.
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