Bakun Officials stop hydro operations

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BAKUN, Benguet – The municipal government ordered the stoppage of operation of the three minihydro power plants owned and operated by the Luzon Hydro Development Corporation, a subsidiary of the Hydroelectric Development Corporation (HEDCOR) Inc., with a total power output of 14 megawatts after the company was not able to renew its 25-year memorandum of agreement with the host communities and the local government.

Mayor Bill Raymundo, together with the members of the municipal council, recently served the stoppage order to the company after it was not able to obtain its business permit to continue its operation within the jurisdiction of the local government.

He said that the issuance of the stoppage order against the operation of the minihydro power plants came after the company was not able to secure a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) from a local court that could have restrained the local government from pursuing the implementation of the stoppage order.

Mayor Raymundo claimed that the agreement for the operation of the company’s two power plants expired in 2016 and that the same was never renewed since then while the agreement for the operation of one of its minihydro power plants lapsed last year that rendered the company’s operation as allegedly illegal as it was not also able to obtain a renewed business permit from the municipality.

The local chief executive stated that there is no more basis for the local government to allow the continuous operation of the company/s minihydro power plants because all the agreements governing its existence already expired aggravated by the fact that the company has no valid business permit to justify its business activities.

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The municipal mayor disclosed that the local government has always been open to negotiations on the matter but it seems the company allegedly refused to reach out to them and instead reportedly employed alleged harassment to compel them to talk with the company officials such as the filing of cases against him among others.

According to him, a still unidentified ranking government official is allegedly being used by the company to mediate the problem but local officials opted not to attend the same because the proposed meeting will be done in Baguio City where there has been a high prevalence of the dreaded Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases which pose a serious threat to their health and safety when they will travel to the city.

Raymundo questioned the motive of the government official in trying to intervene with a problem of the local government and an investor when it should be the company officials that should face them and deal with the problem straight forward.

He casted doubts on the real intention of the company to file a number of cases against him when their petition for TRO has been denied by the court that paved the way for the issuance of the stoppage order.

He asserted that what had been done in temporarily stopping the operation of the company’s minihydro power plants is to send a message that the municipal government means business in the implementation of laws and regulations.

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In a statement, HEDCOR to reiterated its call to the local government officials of Bakun to return to the dialogue table to discuss the additional meaningful support that we can reasonably provide, over and above what is required of the company as mandated by law.

We maintain our position with regards to the business permit – we believe it is a separate matter from the voluntary support, and that we have fulfilled the requirements for the issuance of the business permit. We would like to assure the leaders of Bakun that we are committed to continuing the dialogue for the voluntary share, with the end goal of determining the most meaningful, reasonable, additional support for the constituents of Bakun.

More so, we wish to point out that without a business permit, HEDCOR will not be able to operate and generate revenue, which is our main source for providing income to the LGU in the form of taxes and national wealth share, local employment, generate income for landowners, provide assistance for infrastructure, education, health, environmental and livelihood. Likewise, HEDCOR would not be able to generate renewable energy to the Grid which plays an important role in the energy system of the Philippines.

To date, we have 35 regular employees operating and maintaining our plants who are residents of Bakun. We have implemented scholarship programs, educational support to local schools, medical missions, skills and livelihood training for local residents, and reforestation initiatives, among other CSR projects.   Since the start of HEDCOR operations, it has contributed millions to support the growth of the municipality in the form of voluntary community shares, ER 1-94 funds, as well as other forms of local taxes.

For 30 years, HEDCOR has been an active partner in the socio-economic development of Bakun. We share our hope with the people of Bakun for the continuation of this partnership of choice for the many years to come.

By Hent

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