December 6, 2022

The Bakun Indigenous Tribes Organization has passed a resolution revoking the earlier memorandum of agreement it signed with Hedcor, Inc. over the company’s hydropower plants in Bakun, Benguet.
In BITO’s Resolution 01-2021, it states that the MOA signed on Oct. 15, 2019 allegedly reflects irregularities such as failure to complete the free prior and informed consent (FPIC) process and it also lacks the signature of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Chair Allen Capuyan.  
“Despite said irregularities which makes said MOA as unenforceable/invalid, Hedcor, Inc. is using the same as a tool in unduly exerting pressure to the Bakun officials in order to yield to its demands,” stated the resolution with 35 signatories.
The group added the terms and conditions contained in the MOA is “highly disadvantageous” not only to the municipality and the concerned barangays, but also to the indigenous peoples of Bakun.
The resolutionwas signed during the joint meeting of the BITO and the Bakun Ancestral Domain indigenous cultural communities on March 1 at Barangay Ampusongan.Elders and leaders from the seven barangays attended the meeting.
Copies of the resolution were forwarded to Hedcor, Inc., provincial and regional offices of NCIP, and the NCIP commission en banc for their information and proper action.
Bakun Councilor June Suni-en said the local government has informed Hedcor it will issue a business permit to the company when a new mutually agreed MOA is signed among parties.
Earlier, the Bakun municipality has backed the resolution of Barangays Sinacbat and Poblacion, which asks Mayor Bill Raymundo to halt the issuance of business permit to Hedcor, Inc. pending the requisite barangay clearances.
In a joint resolution passed on Jan. 4, the barangays said the company must first obtain a barangay clearance by the municipal government prior to the issuance of the business permit.
In a statement, Hedcor said it respects the joint resolution but will have to defer to the Bakun LGU for any response. The company said it maintains its commitment to being a partner to its host communities in promoting the common good and welfare of its local and IP communities.
In July last year, the LGU served the stoppage of operation to Hedcor for alleged non-payment of its obligation from the plants’ power generation and operating without a business permit. The company’s 25-year MOA with the community has expired.
Hedcor and the LGU then settled the issue with the firm paying its unsettled obligations to the host communities, which paved way for the issuance of business permit for the continuation of the firm’s operation. The LGU and Hedcor also discussed the contents of the new MOA. – Ofelia C. Empian