BAKUN, Benguet – The HEDCOR, Inc. asserted that the company would like to continue to be Bakun’s partners for progress for a long time amidst the resolution of non-consent that was previously issued by the Bakun Indigenous Tribe Organization (BITO) on the operation of its hydro power plants located in the municipality.
In a statement, the company appealed to the BITO leaders to support the continuation of the processing of its certification pre-condition (CP) from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) so that it could commence with the agreed benefit sharing scheme based on the earlier memorandum of agreement (MOA).
“We hope that the Bakun municipal government will grant the renewal of the required business permit for the company to be able to continue its operation and sustain our relationship with the best interest of the entire Bakun community during this pandemic,” the statement stressed.
Further, HEDCOR stipulated that it remains committed to supporting the Bakun community, the same way that it is providing its other host communities across the country with benefits that are reasonable and sustainable.
Earlier the BITO issued a resolution of non-consent for the company to operate its existing Bakun hydro power plants that virtually ended HEDCOR’s presence in the community for 3 decades.
“We are saddened by this turn of events. From 2017, we, together with the BITO, and guided by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, have gone through a successful free, prior and informed consent process, which resulted in the issuance of the certificate of consent, and consequently, a signed FPIC-memorandum of agreement in October 2019. This process is time-tested and it involves securing the consent of the entire indigenous peoples community in Bakun,” the statement added.
According to the company, it is understood from the aforesaid resolution of non-consent that the same was triggered by the petition for certiorari that the company had to file with the court, to protect its plants from being unduly shutdown and it is the company; hope that the community understands that HEDCOR, Inc. has been left with no choice but to file the petition, given the threat to shut down its operations by March 31, 2021 was issued by the municipality while the dialogue for the new MOA on a voluntary shares with the local government ongoing.
HEDCOR, Inc. pointed out that the negotiations for a new commercial agreement for additional shares is not a requirement for a business permit, and the same has been supported in the opinions issued by the Department of the Interior and Local government (DILG).
However, the company explained that in the spirit of fairness, a free and reasonable commercial negotiation is not possible with the undue threat to the operations of the hydro power plants brought about by the withholding of the issuance of the business permit.
Last year, the municipal government issued a cease and desist order to the company to stop the operation of its hydro power plants after it was not able to secure the required business permit but because of timely interventions, the company was able to resume its operations with the condition that it will negotiate a new commercial agreement with the concerned sectors in the municipality within one month since the issuance of its renewed business permit in September 2020. By HENT