BAUKO, Mountain Province – The local government is demanding the Aboitiz-owned Hydroelectric Development Corporation (HEDCOR) Sabangan, Inc. to grant the appropriate share of its host and neighboring communities in the municipality as some of its facilities are situated within the jurisdiction of the town and the headwaters of the river system providing water for the 14-megawatt hydro power plant is situated within the Mount Data forest reservation.
Mayor Abraham B. Akilit said the municipal government already sent its initial demand to the company for a share of the royalty and taxes the company is paying to the municipal government of Sabangan because the company’s intake is located within the municipality, particularly barangay Monamon Norte, while its transmission lines traverse barangay Otucan aside from the fact that the headwaters of the river system where the company’s hydro plant source the water to run its turbines come from Bauko.
“Bauko deserves its due share from the operation of the Sabangan mini-hydropower plant and we want to assert our right to demand from the company the payment of the town’s rightful share in terms of real property and business taxes and other payments due the local government. We do not understand why the company refuses to formally respond to our earlier inquiry on how we are going to access our share from the operation of the 14-megawatt mini-hydropower plant,” Akilit stressed.
The mayor also questioned the company on how it was able to build its facilities within the jurisdiction of some of the town’s barangays even within the required free and prior informed consent (FPIC) which should be issued by the indigenous peoples in the affected areas.
According to him, the local government has in its possession appropriate documents which do not show that the IPs issued their FPIC for HEDCOR Sabangan, Inc. to build its facilities within the town’s barangays, a clear violation of the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA).
He explained that when the company’s facilities were bombed by members of the New Peoples Army (NPA), it was Bauko that was placed in a bad light as the damaged facilities are located in barangay Otucan and that the company is operating the facilities without paying to the municipal government any single centavo contrary to the IPRA provisions that host and neighboring communities of development projects must be granted the necessary share from the operations of projects that exploit, develop and utilize the State’s resources for the growth and development of said areas.
He asserted that the local government intends to use its share from the operation of the Sabangan hydro power plants for the development of the town’s host communities, aside from improving the delivery of health care services to the people considering that the municipality is trying to maximize the generation of whatever resources from those exploiting, developing and utilizing its resources for the benefit of overall development in the municipality.