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BAKUN, Benguet – The HEDCOR, Inc. announced that it fully respects the joint resolution that was passed by barangays Poblacion and Sinacbat calling on the municipal government not to issue the company’s business permit unless it is able to secure the required clearance from the two barangays playing host to the operation of its power plants.
However, the company stated that it will still defer to the municipal government for any response as the said resolution was addressed to the local government.
HEDCOR, Inc. maintained that the issuance of the business permit and barangay clearance should not be conditioned on and is separate and distinct from any support program voluntarily made by the company on top of its legal obligations.
In the aforesaid case, the hydro firm pointed out that the outcome of the dialogue for a new memorandum of agreement (MOA) to the value of working together.
It reiterated its previous commitment to being a partner to its host local government in promoting the common good and welfare of its local and indigenous communities.
On October 15, 2019, the free and prior informed consent agreement was signed between the company and the Bakun Indigenous Tribal Organization (BITO) which detailed the benefit-sharing and defined the responsibilities of the parties in compliance to the pertinent provisions of Republic Act (RA) 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA).
According to the company’s statement, HEDCOR is in constant collaboration with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and looks forward for the eventual culmination of the FPIC process through the issuance by NCIP of the certificate pre-condition so that the agreed benefit-sharing laid out in the agreement can be implemented pursuant to existing rules and regulations of the FPIC.
On January 16, 2020, the Energy Regulation 1-94 agreement was signed between the municipal government and barangays Poblacion and Sinacbat, on direct financial benefits to host communities of energy generation companies for projects programmed in the areas of development and livelihood, reforestation, watershed management, health or environment enhancement.
Last year, the ER 1-94 funds have become accessible to HEDCOR’s host communities to aid in the COVID-19 response and for Bakun, the aforesaid funds were used to improve quarantine facilities, purchase of personal protective equipment for frontliners, and procurement of medical and laboratory supplies.
Despite the closure of operations that was ordered by Mayor Bill Raymundo in July 2020 due to the non-processing of the company’s business permit following the expiration of the 25-year memorandum of agreement on voluntary shares accord, HEDCOR remains optimistic that the municipality and the barangays will reap the benefits from the hydro power operation that the company can afford.
The firm also confirmed its commitment to comply with all national and local government requirements to operate and will continue to fulfill its obligations as mandated by law.
HEDCOR asserted that its position is consistent with the guidance and opinion of the Cordillera office of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG-CAR) which stated that the issuance of license or permit shall only be pursuant to existing laws, rules and regulations and that the municipal mayor is bereft of the authority to impose additional conditions on the issuance, renewal, or continued validity of a business permit other than what the law or ordinances provide.
Moreover, DILG-CAR stipulated that the absence of any expressed requirements, the pending negotiations on the renewal of the agreement should not impede the renewal of the company’s business permit.
As the dialogue with the municipal mayor continues, HEDCOR trusts that both parties will arrive at the most meaningful, reasonable, and sustainable terms to provide additional support to the constituents of Bakun.
The hydro firm hopes that it will continue to get the municipality’s support in allowing the continued operations of the company’s hydro power plants so that it can deliver much needed and uninterrupted power supply to the public, especially as the nation continues to battle the COVID pandemic.
HEDCOR emphasized that a solid partnership with the local government will surely help the company’s unhampered operations, which is crucial to protecting the mandatory benefits of Bakun and guarantees that these are fully provided to the host communities. By HENT