Three run-of-river hydropower plants of Aboitiz Power Corporation subsidiary Hedcor in Bakun, Benguet were ordered to stop operations following a cease and desist order (CDO) issued on Tuesday by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples in the Cordillera Administrative Region (NCIP-CAR).
NCIP-CAR particularly directed Hedcor to cease operations of the Lower Labay Hydro (photo above), FLS Hydro, and Lon-oy Hydro five days after receipt of the CDO.
Hedcor said the issuance of the CDO was due to alleged irregularities regarding the Free Prior Informed Consent-Memorandum of Agreement (FPIC-MOA) between Hedcor and the Bakun Indigenous Tribes Organization (BITO), signed on October 15, 2019.
“We believe that we have been compliant with all the requirements during the course of the FPIC application process, and have been waiting for the issuance of the Certificate Precondition since the FPIC-MOA was signed,” Hedcor Vice President for Corporate Services Noreen Vicencio said in a statement.
The company said it was saddened by the NCIP-CAR’s decision to shut down its Bakun operations despite all efforts to come to a dialogue with BITO and the NCIP.
“The CDO will not just affect Hedcor, but also the customers and communities we serve. At this time of a Red Alert situation in the Luzon grid, the continued operation of our plants is very crucial,” Vicencio added.
In spite of the issuance of the CDO, Hedcor will continue to actively reach out to the community for a dialogue or the customary “tongtongan” between the company and the Bakun IPs, with the guidance of NCIP.
Hedcor looks forward to continuing to provide the benefits that the Bakun community is currently receiving from the generation of the plants. Non-operation of the Bakun plants, however, means that the community shares and ER 1-94 funds will neither accrue nor accumulate.
The ER 1-94 program is a policy under Republic Act 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), which stipulates that host communities will get a share of one centavo for every kilowatt-hour (Php0.01/kWh) of the total electricity sales of power generation companies operating in its area.
Photo from Hedcor website.