Hydropower project on despite TRO

WORK continues for Hedcor Inc. in Sabangan town, Mountain Province, despite a temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

Hedcor assistant vice president for corporate and regulatory affairs Darleen Arguelles said the company has filed an omnibus motion for reconsideration for the urgent dissolution of the TRO through their legal counsel from the Cabato Law Office.

“As to the TRO, we will continue to work with NCIP and our stakeholders, to go through their concerns and allow us to explain and resolve them immediately,” Arguelles said.

Hedcor is on the process of constructing a 14-megawatt hydro-electric power plant in Sabangan town, with a two-year construction timetable, with a completion date in the first quarter of 2015 costing P1.8 billion.

The project is set to be finished by May 2015, with the Free Prior and Informed Consent granted way back in 2011.

Arguelles added that Hedcor Sabangan conforms with the design submitted to the Environment Management Bureau, adding the company conducted a survey together with the contractor Sta. Clara Inc. that verified that the design was followed.

On May 7, the regional hearing officer of the NCIP issued a TRO mandating Hedcor Sabangan Inc. and its contractors to cease and desist from the construction of a hydroelectric plant.

The company countered the May 9 TRO and continued construction of the plant with the backing of the community and IP groups in the area.

NCIP Regional Hearing Officer Brain Masweng issued the TRO based on a petition filed by the Napua Sabangan United Tour Guides Association.

“Construction of permanent structures such as gabions was awarded to local contractor which completed works last April 28. These activities are progressive and will continue as necessary until completion of the Sabangan project,” Argulles said.

In 2011, Hedcor signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Barangay Napua and Namatec and the indigenous cultural communities residing in the areas.

Hedcor agreed to employ and give preference to qualified IP members of the community during the construction and operation of the project and undertake the construction and improvement of the Barangay road.

Annual medical and dental missions in favor of the host and partners, as well as livelihood skills trainings were agreed upon during the signing of the agreement in 2011. This is the first project of Hedcor Inc. in province.

The TRO petition was filed by the Napua Sabangan United Tour Guides Association, alleging the company is entering their ancestral land and domain and in constructing the hydroelectric power plant and claims the previous FPIC was flawed.

Arguelles, however, said disposal areas were identified and hauling of excavated materials were contracted to local contractors with some landowners requesting to fill excavated materials to their lands that was granted with corresponding development; with regard the compliance of the ECC and NCIP requirements, the company continues to comply as required by the project.
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