June 22, 2024

The Bakun Indigenous Tribes Organization (BITO) has passed a resolution terminating all future negotiations with Hedcor, Inc. about possible resumption of operations of its hydropower plants in the municipality.
In a resolution passed July 6, BITO stated with the latest legal actions of the Hedcor against officials of Bakun and the National Commission on Indigenous People-CAR, the elders and community leaders have decided to terminate any and all future negotiations with Hedcor.
On June 25, Hedcor has filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition with prayer for temporary restraining order and writ of preliminary injunction against the NCIP-CAR at the Court of Appeals. Hedcor seeks to annul, nullify, and restrain the implementation of the CDO earlier issued by NCIP-CAR.
BITO has earlier asked Hedcor to withdraw, as a sign of goodwill, the complaints of violation of the Anti-Red Tape Act against officials of Bakun led by Mayor Billy Raymundo before proceeding with further negotiations.
In a separate resolution, BITO also requested the Department of Energy to cancel the service contract of the 5.9-megawatt Ferdinand L. Singit hydro, 3.6-MW Lon-oy hydro, and 2.4-MW Lower Labay hydro.
The elders also asked the DOE to cancel, if there are any, water permit/s issued to Hedcor with regard to its operations since they have already executed a resolution of no consent.
BITO further asked the DOE not to renew or issue any hydropower service contracts to any company that does not bear the endorsement of the community.
“The foregoing is not to impede any national development program or project but only a mere exercise of our rights as indigenous peoples to harvest, extract, develop, and use the natural resources within our ancestral domain as enshrined under existing laws,” the resolution added.
Hedcor has been asking to renegotiate with the community following the implementation of the CDO by the NCIP on June 30.
On June 7, the NCIP issued a notice of violation to Hedcor for continuing to operate its hydroelectric power plants without consent of the community. NCIP said the company violated the indigenous people’s right to their ancestral domain as stated in the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act.
Last March, BITO submitted a resolution to NCIP withdrawing their previous agreement with Hedcor to continue its operation citing irregularities in their negotiations. This led the NCIP-CAR to issue a stop order to Hedcor on June 22.
BITO Chair Mario Morales, in an earlier interview, said they wanted a “cool off” with the company before pushing through with any more negotiations.
In a statement, Hedcor said that on July 6, the Regional Trial Court of Buguias has issued a writ of preliminary injunction following the status quo ante order issued by the same court, in view of the mutual agreement of Hedcor and the Bakun LGU to ensure the continued operations of the hydro plants.
“The writ clearly prevents the LGU and all persons acting on its behalf from further threatening or actually stopping the operations of the Bakun plants,” Hedcor said.
Hedcor added it was compelled to resort to legal remedies to defend the company from the threats to its operations.
“We are really saddened by how the issues unfolded. We have received orders to keep our plants running but we are constrained from resuming operations to prioritize the safety and security of the community, our IP employees and our assets,” said Hedcor Vice President for Operations, Leo Lungay. – Ofelia C. Empian