Issuance of business permits to hydro power company questioned

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BAKUN, Benguet – Officials of two barangays in this municipality called on Mayor Bill Y. Raymundo not to issue the required business permit to the Luzon Hydro Corporation and HEDCOR, Inc. unless the requisite barangay clearances from the same shall be issued to the renewable energy companies.

Under Resolution No. 01, series of 2021, passed by the barangay officials during the joint special meeting of the barangay councils of Sinacbat and Poblacion last January 4, 2021, the barangay officials who signed the same underscored that being the host barangays of the operation of the power plants of the said companies, a barangay clearance must first be obtained by the companies prior to the issuance of the business permit by the municipal government.

While the barangay officials recognized that Republic Act (RA) 7160 or the Local Government Code of the Philippines gives the discretion of the local chief executive to issue business permit, they argued that because the facilities of the renewable energy companies are located within the jurisdiction of the 2 barangays, the decision of the administration in the barangay level must be honoured and respected.

At present, the concerned company are allegedly in the process of renewing their business permit with the municipal government for its continued operation.

Last year, Mayor Raymundo ordered the closure of the operation of the hydro plants operated by the companies after it failed to secure the required business permit from the local government following the expiration of the 25-year memorandum of agreement governing their presence in the locality.

However, the municipal government and the company eventually decided to agree on certain terms such as the payment by the company of the unsettled obligations with the municipality and the barangays and for the parties to pursue the renegotiation of the expired agreement to incorporate the demands of the indigenous peoples.

Under the pertinent provisions of Republic Act (8371) or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), companies intending to exploit, develop and utilize the resources within the ancestral domain must first secure the free and prior informed consent of the same. Further, companies are also required to pay to their host communities royalties that shall be determined through negotiations.

HEDCOR settled its outstanding obligations to the municipal government and the barangays that paved the way for the subsequent issuance of the required business permit for the company to be able to continue its operations but the same seems to have suffered a serious setback after the concerned barangays issued their resolutions.

The barangay officials expressed optimism Mayor Raymundo will heed their appeal for the non-issuance of the required business permit to the renewable energy companies until such time that the host barangays will issue the required clearance for the same to process the business permit of the companies to ensure their operations.

By HENT

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