March 3, 2024

Elders of Bakun, Benguet have requested the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples to issue a cease and desist order on the operation of the three mini-hydro power plants owned by Hedcor, Inc. in the municipality.

In the joint resolution of Bakun Indigenous Tribe Organization and the elders and leaders of Bakun ancestral domain on April 21, it stated the permit for the continuous operation of Hedcor has expired on March 31.

On April 6, the elders have issued a resolution of non-consent on the operation of Hedcor’s power plant.

“It is hereby decided unanimously by the elders/leaders of the ancestral domain of Bakun to invoke their right as indigenous peoples/indigenous cultural communities and hereby issue their non-consent position as to the operation of Hedcor, Inc. within the domain,” the resolution reads.

The resolution alleged the company has failed to comply with the agreements made with the Bakun ancestral domain group and did not properly negotiate with the barangay and municipal governments, which caused misunderstanding among stakeholders.  

“It remains that Hedcor, Inc. has no authority to operate in our ancestral domain having failed to obtain our consent and permit for their continued operation,” it added.

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.

The company’s 25-year memorandum of agreement with the stakeholders has expired in 2016.

A new MOA for the free prior and informed consent 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.

NCIP-Cordillera Director Marlon P. Bosantog, in response to the query of Bakun Mayor Bill Raymundo regarding the status on the operation of Hedcor without having a certificate of precondition from the agency, said the company’s application for CP is an essential requirement in order to secure necessary permits needing renewals.

“Hedcor cannot operate without the NCIP’s issuance of a certification precondition. Moreover, ICCs/IPs have the right to stop and suspend any project within their ancestral domains if proponents cannot satisfy the consultation process,” Bosantog said.   

Hedcor Vice President for Corporate Services of Luzon Hydro Corporation Noreen Marie Vicencio said they are open for dialogues with the ancestral domain leaders and the town officials. – Ofelia C. Empian