Court issues TRO vs. BENECO in Kabayan project

BAGUIO CITY –The court has issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) to stop from interfering with the Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) process being undertaken by Hedcor-Kabayan, Inc.

In a press release issued by Hedcor, senior vice president Chris Faelnar disclosed that the company was able to obtain a TRO against the electric cooperative to stop from disrupting the FPIC process the hydro company is undertaking with regards to its proposal to develop a mini-hydroelectric project in the highland town.

“We are pleased that the court recognized the merits of our case and issued a TRO on November 25. This will allow Hedcor-Kabayan to continue the consultation process with the community and the indigenous peoples (IPsh) of Kabayan in compliance to the National Commission of Indigenous People (NCIP) guidelines to obtain IP consent for the project,” Faelnar said in the press statement.

“The FPIC process is the first of many approvals and permits that are necessary to allow Hedcor Kabayan to develop and construct the 52 MW Kabayan run-of-river hydropower project,” he stressed.

Hedcor intends to build a 52 megawatt facility in Kabayan town which will provide additional energy for the Luzon grid once completed.

“By virtue of the Renewable Energy Service Contract which has been issued to Hedcor Kabayan by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the subsequent endorsement by the DOE to conduct the FPIC, Hedcor Kabayan, has a right to perform activities in line with obtaining IP and community approval for the progress of the project,” Faelnar said.

It was learned that some BENECO personnel have been disrupting the FPIC process for reasons still unclear.

However, speculation is rife that the electric cooperative would also like to develop its own hydro-electric plant at the water rich town.

“For the past 38 years, we adhered to our mandate—to develop and operate efficient hydropower systems in a socially responsible manner by protecting the environment and improving the well-being of our stakeholderrs. Today, we are operating 22 run-of-river hydropower facilities in the country,” he added. Sam Bautista/PNA-northboundasia.com