January 29, 2023

Elders of Bakun, Benguet have asked the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples to defer the ongoing process of the issuance of certification of precondition of Hedcor, Inc. pending the latter’s obligations to the municipality.
The Kankana-ey and Bago Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples of the Ancestral Domain of Bakun and the Bakun Indigenous Tribes Organization, in a resolution dated Aug. 3, said while there is a memorandum of agreement signed between them and Hedcor for the renewal of its hydropower plants, it does not cover the obligation of Hedcor to the local government unit.
Bakun elders and Hedcor signed on Jan. 16 a 20-page MOA as a requirement for the renewal of the company’s operation of the Lon-oy, Ferdinand L. Singit and the Lower Labay hydropower plants.
“The said MOA as a requirement for the issuance of the compliance certificate must be understood that it is issued in favor for the domain wide. However, it does not cover the obligation of the Hedcor, Inc. to the LGU in relation to issuance of business permit and other requirements,” the elders stated.  
On July 26, 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 ICCs/IPs of the ancestral domain of Bakun and the BITO, the duly authorized IPO of Bakun, in joint-session came into decision to request the NCIP for the deferment of the process of the issuance of certificate precondition for the Hedcor, Inc. until a favorable settlement of the above-mentioned civil case be arrived at,” the elders said.
The elders were referring to the petition filed in court by Hedcor for a temporary restraining order and writ of preliminary mandatory injunction against the LGU.  
Mayor Bill Raymundo said they are open for negotiation with Hedcor regarding the issue. 
He said the last negotiation the LGU had with Hedcor was in 2019 where two parties presented their own proposals.
The parties, however, did not reach a mutually accepted agreement particularly on the sharing scheme between the company and the community. Despite this, Hedcor met with the domain elders resulting in the signing of the new MOA.
“Hedcor has been very helpful to Bakun, so all we want is to come up with favorable terms. We are open for negotiation,” Raymundo said.
Councilor June Suni-en, chair of the committee of ways and means, said Hedcor’s last payment of its obligation was in February 2019. He said the company should also settle its obligation to the LGU for the last three quarters of 2019.
Hedcor, in its statement, said they would continue to dialogue with the community even as it filed the court petition. The company also maintains that absence of a MOA in the meantime should not be used as a prerequisite in the issuance of a business permit.  – Ofelia C. Empian