Hedcor hopes issues with Bakun IPs will be resolved
Hedcor is still willing and ready for a dialogue with indigenous peoples of Bakun who recently passed a resolution terminating all future talks with the company.
“Hedcor remains willing and ready for a dialogue with the Bakun Indigenous Tribes Organization (BITO). The company believes that if both parties sit down and talk, they can come up with a mutually beneficial resolution,” the company said in a statement.
Hedcor has continuously reached out to the IPs for a dialogue even prior to and amid its shutdown in Bakun. In fact, officials from the energy sector as well as Benguet Gov. Melchor Diclas have issued statements calling for talks between both parties and for Hedcor’s resumed operations.
In spite of Hedcor’s efforts and the growing call for a dialogue, the BITO and the local government of Bakun remain firm in their refusal to sit down and talk.
The BITO has recently issued a resolution stating the termination of future talks and negotiations with Hedcor. The resolution cited the recent cases which Hedcor has filed in order for the company to continue operating the Bakun hydropower plants.
“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.
Hedcor said the continued operation of plants in Bakun is within the relief granted under the writ of preliminary injunction issued by the Regional Trial Court of Buguias effective July 6. This follows the status quo ante order also issued by the court in view of the mutual agreement of Hedcor and the LGU to ensure the continued operations of the Bakun plants.
The writ prevents the Bakun LGU and all persons acting on its behalf from further threatening or actually stopping the operations of the Bakun plants.
Hedcor clarified it was compelled to resort to legal remedies to defend itself against the threats to its operations.
The company also emphasized the legal steps it has taken so far against the LGU or National Commission on Indigenous Peoples officials are neither criminal nor administrative actions, nor are the officials sought to be made personally liable.
“As we’ve stated before, Hedcor also has equally important obligations to the energy consumers, the government, and its other stakeholders. We are exhausting all available remedies so that the energy needs of the community and the Covid-19 efforts of the government are not compromised,” Lungay said.
In addition to the writ of preliminary injunction, Hedcor also received a letter from the Department of Energy on July 1 directing Hedcor’s Bakun plants to reconnect to the grid, in very clear terms, specifically “to ensure your company’s supply to the grid and if you have disconnected, you are ordered to connect to the grid the soonest possible or upon receipt of this letter.”
In the letter, DOE reiterated its earlier directive in its June 25 letter to Hedcor, emphasizing the tight power supply situation in the Luzon grid, thus the need for the Bakun hydros to continue operations.
The DOE also cited its March 2 advisory on “Ensuring Reliable and Stable Electric Power Supply during the Government’s Covid-19 Vaccine Rollout Program” and Department Circular DC2020-04-0008 entitled “Rationalizing the Utilization of Energy Regulation 1-94 Funds by Host Local Government Units in Response to Covid-19 Public Health Emergency.” – Press release