Gatchalian raises concern over impending closure of three Benguet hydro plants

Gatchalian raises concern over impending closure of three Benguet hydro plants

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — Raising concerns over yellow and red alerts threatening the Luzon
grid, Senator Win Gatchalian urged the Department of Energy (DOE) to
exercise its mandate to resolve the issues surrounding the impending
shutdown of operations of three hydroelectric power plants in Benguet
province.

“At a time when there’s a threat of yellow and red alerts in the power
supply, we have to make sure that all plants are up and running
especially now that we’re in the middle of a global health crisis,”
Gatchalian said reacting to reports about the cease-and-desist order
(CDO) issued by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)
in Cordillera to Hedcor Inc.

Hedcor Inc., operator of Labay, Lon-oy, and F.L. Singit hydropower
plants in Bakun town, Benguet, has been given five days to wind down
their operations following the issuance of the CDO last June 22. The
order to stop operations stemmed from alleged issues in obtaining
consent from indigenous tribes, particularly the Bakun Indigenous
Tribes Organization (BITO).

Under the Indigenous People’s Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA), project
developers can only acquire permits and licenses upon the issuance of
the Certification Precondition (CP) by the NCIP which proves consent
from the indigenous community where the project will be situated.

“While the issue confronting Hedcor Inc. and the indigenous
communities are legal in nature, I implore the NCIP and DOE to work
out a possible solution,” Gatchalian said.

Naiintindihan ko na may kaakibat na isyung sumasaklaw sa mga karapatan
ng mga kababayan nating mga IPs sa usaping ito. Ngunit mabigat din ang
usaping kinakaharap sa pagpapasara ng mga plantang ito na isa sa mga
pinagkukunan ng suplay ng kuryente ng mga nasasakupang lugar sa halos
tatlong dekada na. Sana ay magkaroon ng resolusyon na
katanggap-tanggap sa mga kinauukulan sa lalong madaling panahon,” the
senator added. (AI/MTVN)

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