“We are hoping for a win-win resolution kase kawawa din kami mga landowner na may inaasahang additional income from Hedcor’s land lease payment kung paaalisin ng LGU namin ang Hedcor,” said Amos Beta-a, 73, an IP elder landowner of Bakun and founding member of Bakun Indigenous Tribes Organization (BITO).
Beta-a’s statement is in light of the firm refusal of the other members of BITO to any form of talks with Hedcor. BITO’s rejection to the conduct of a customary tongtongan has raised concerns of Bakun’s residents, particularly landowners and employees of Hedcor who are also members of the indigenous peoples (IP).
Amidst the current issues between Hedcor and the Bakun Local Government Unit and BITO, some of the landowners are still hopeful that these issues will be resolved soon.
Hedcor has been renting approximately 6 hectares of land from around 100 landowners in Bakun. Annually, Hedcor infuses P3 million to the domestic economy of Bakun as direct income to landowners whose properties house the three power plant facilities of Hedcor.
In addition, local contractors of Bakun, many of whom are also IPs, benefit from Hedcor’s annual maintenance projects for its power plants. In 2021 alone, Hedcor programmed P43 million of projects for local contractors for these maintenance works.
Prolonged shutdown of Hedcor’s Bakun power plants will reduce its ability to sustain these benefits.
Beta-a further said that, “What will happen to those landowners who are expecting additional income from Hedcor for their growing needs? We have students that we need to send to school, we are getting older and we already need medical maintenance that needs enough funds.”
Meanwhile, Rene Balakiao, 49, Hedcor IP employee from Bakun said, “Sana pag-uusapan ang isyu para ma resolve. Kung may hindi pagkakaunawaan, magusap para ma-correct. Maraming kapatid natin ang mawawalan ng trabaho kapag patuloy ang shutdown ng planta.”
Recently, Benguet Gov. Melchor Diclas also released a statement to oppose the call to shut down the hydro plants as it would negatively impact the power supply in the country. He hopes to resume talks between Hedcor and Bakun IPs to settle issues that led to the stoppage of operation of the plants and create a win-win solution.
“The resumption will be beneficial to all parties concerned—the IP community, the company, the host local government units, and the power consumers with the plant’s generation forming part of the Luzon grid,” Diclas added. ###