June 1, 2023

The municipal government of Bakun, Benguet has reminded its residents to be wary of people going around getting signatures that favor the operation of mini-hydro power plants owned by Hedcor, Inc.

In a statement on March 26, Bakun Mayor Billy Raymundo said reports that reached him revealed certain individuals are allegedly conducting signature campaign within the municipality in favor of Hedcor, Inc.

“Let me reiterate the local government of Bakun does not oppose the operation of the hydroelectric power plants of Hedcor, Inc. Bakun is just doing its best so that the maximum or existing benefits under the old memorandum of agreement entered by our elders/leaders with Hedcor, Inc. in 1991 and 1993 will continuously be derived by the municipality,” the statement reads.

The municipality is host to Hedcor’s 5.9-megawatt Ferdinand L. Singit hydro, 3.6-MW Lon-oy hydro, and 2.4-MW Lower Labay hydro.

The mayor has reminded the residents to first inquire about the purpose of the signature campaign and its contents must be explained to them.

Raymundo, in an interview, said the company should instead meet with the stakeholders to discuss issues and concerns than having a signature campaign.

It has been a while since the municipality and other stakeholders have been negotiating with Hedcor on the contents of a new MOA since the old MOA lapsed in 2019.

“We never asked for a higher or additional offer. We wanted the same amount to be given to us, which is one percent for the barangay and two percent for the municipality,” he said.

The two percent computation for the municipality is about P5 million to P6M, which the company countered with an offer of P500,000 for the municipality instead.  

The mayor stressed that the obligations of the company with the domain and with the local government unit are different.

On July 26 last year, officials of Bakun served the stoppage of operation order to the three hydropower plants of Hedcor due to expired business permit and MOA.

It was then reopened following the dialogue and signing of an agreement by the LGU and Hedcor at the Capitol. A temporary business permit was provided to Hedcor, which expired last month.

“We wanted to resolve this issue with the company but we ask that they meet with us face-to-face and not by filing cases in court,” Raymundo said. – Ofelia C. Empian