December 7, 2022

Respected elders of Bakun, Benguet have issued a resolution of non-consent on the operation of the Hedcor, Inc. power plants at Poblacion and Sinacbat.

In a joint resolution of the Bakun Indigenous Tribe Organization and the elders and leaders of Bakun ancestral domain on April 6, they informed Hedcor the non-consent decision was reached due to the company’s expired business permit, expired memorandum of agreement between the company and stakeholders, and non-issuance of certificate of precondition by the community.

The resolution stated the company failed to comply with the agreements made between the Bakun ancestral domain group and did not properly negotiate with the barangay and municipal government units, which caused misunderstanding within the community.  

The resolution added the elders were dismayed when the company filed cases against the local government unit headed by Mayor Billy Raymundo, who they said, was only advancing the rights of the community.

“It is unacceptable in the culture of Bakun that one has to file a case against the leader of the community. The cases filed by Hedcor against our officials brought dismay to the community,” the resolution, written in the vernacular, states.

The resolution, which was approved unanimously, was forwarded to the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.

Bakun 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.

Raymundo earlier urged Hedcor to continue its negotiation with concerned parties towards the creation of a new MOA.

The company’s 25-year MOA with the community expired in 2016. A new MOA was signed in October 2019. But in March this year, the elders passed a resolution revoking the MOA citing irregularities in their negotiations with Hedcor.

Bakun Grid Manager Justin Ryan Lee, in a statement, appealed to the LGU to renew their 2021 business permit, saying the continued operation of the plant is for the welfare of the municipality and its people.

“The dialogues for a fair and reasonable MOA for additional voluntary shares can be done without disrupting the operations. True partnership is to agree on terms that are for the good of all parties involved – the officials, the company, the indigenous peoples, and the community,” Lee said. – Ofelia C. Empian