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BAKUN, Benguet – The municipal government and the indigenous peoples from the municipality are eagerly awaiting the final schedule of the signing of the memorandum of agreement (MOA) which had been the subject of previous talks that paved the way for the resumption of operation of the three minihydro power plants being managed by the Aboitiz-owned HEDCOR, Inc..
Mayor Bill Raymundo disclosed that the 25-year agreement is now being reviewed by the Cordillera office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP-CAR) and the company to ascertain the inclusion of all terms and conditions that had been agreed upon prior to the scheduling of the formal signing rites.
While it came to his attention that there are some terms and conditions that are being allegedly excluded from the agreement despite the same having been agreed upon during the previous talks, he stated that it will now be up to the NCIP-CAR to explain to the company the importance of having to include such important conditions in the final form of the agreement.
However, he refused to divulge the aforesaid terms and conditions as the agreement is still being subjected to the review process by the concerned parties for purposes of transparency.
The local chief executive stipulated that the indigenous peoples of the Bakun ancestral domain were satisfied with the outcome of the previous negotiations that saw a breakthrough in the previous impasse between the indigenous peoples and the company over the renewal of the agreement that expired several years ago.
He revealed that the NCIP-CAR and the company were able to explain to the indigenous peoples the contents of the agreement that will allow them and the municipal government to have a combined benefit of approximately P0.14 per kilowatt-hour of clean energy that will be produced by the operating power plants during the duration of the MOA.
Last June 30, 2021, the cease and desist order (CDO) issued by the NCIP-CAR covering the 3 minihydro power plants of HEDCOR took effect after the company was not able to effectively and efficiently address the concerns being raised by the indigenous peoples on the proposed renewal of the expired agreement governing the operation of the power generation facilities.
On July 28, 2021, a breakthrough on the previous impasse was reached by no less than the indigenous peoples and the HEDCOR through the facilitation of the NCIP-CAR under the leadership of lawyer Marlon Bosantog that paved the way for the eventual resumption of the operation of the company’s 3 minihydro power plants for the same to be re-connected with the Luzon grid.
Bosantog pointed out that the recent breakthrough in the impasse between the Bakun indigenous peoples and the company only shows that it is important for the indigenous peoples to assert their rights over their ancestral domain for them to be able to maximize the benefits that they could drive from the utilization and development of the resources within their domain.
Further, he emphasized that local officials should respect the wisdom of the indigenous peoples in asserting their rights over their ancestral domain because what is important is the same will be for the greater majority of the indigenous peoples. By HENT